Friday, October 16, 2015

Playing the Lamar Odom Blame Game: Who's Responsible?

Nostalgia. It's the single greatest reason why people follow sports. Even though you probably didn't feel as fondly about them at the time, pondering back into time and recalling the great qualities of past players is one of the best feelings in sports. Lamar Odom is the perfect example of this. When he was actually playing, he was the single most frustrating player of all-time. Not because he was bad, but because how good he COULD HAVE been. But when you look back at his career, almost everyone remembers his game in a positive way. How good was Lamar Odom? There's only one answer: Not as good as he COULD HAVE been.

I always said if God granted me the wish to be a professional basketball player, out of anyone in the history of the league, I would ask him to give me Lamar Odom's body and physical ability. That includes Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson. Lamar Odom is the only player in NBA history that can play all 5 positions effectively at both ends of the floor for large chunks of the season. I wish I could write more about LO's physical abilities and compare him to Lebron and Magic but that would be an entirely different article. Let me just say this. The one part of Lamar I would definitely ask to leave out is the mental aspect. Give me Jordan's brain and Lamar's body and I will give you the single greatest basketball player that has ever lived or probably will ever live. Hell, forget Jordan's brain. Give me my own brain right now in Lamar's body and I will get you multiple championships. That's how great Lamar Odom's physical abilities were. So what happened?

Like many black athletes, Lamar Odom had a rough childhood. We all know the story. Rough neighborhood of Jamaica in Queens, NY. Absentee drug addict father. The thing that makes Lamar's childhood even sadder is that his mother passed away when he was 12 and he was raised by his grandmother, who also passed away when he was fairly young at 20 years old. I can't even imagine how a person is supposed to mature into a fully functioning normal adult, let alone a multi-million dollar athlete when they are dealing with these challenges. As if this wasn't enough, in 2006, Lamar's 6-month old son, Jayden passed away of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) while sleeping in his crib. And this happened while Lamar was at a funeral for his aunt!

Are you kidding me? How much misery can a single person take? I am a fairly normal person who had a good childhood, solid parents, supportive family, and a strong support system with relatively little exposure to drugs and alcohol in my early life. I have an infant daughter and if this had happened to me, even with all of those things in my life, I am pretty certain you would find me using SOME FORM of drugs to cope with the loss. For someone like Lamar and the sadness he has experienced in his life, who grew up in an environment ripe with drug addiction, no functional parenting, and now has an unlimited amount of resources to secure drugs, to be perfectly honest, its a fucking miracle he made it as far as he did in life without ending up dead from drug use.

This was another major event in Lamar Odom's life. In September of 2009, Lamar Odom married reality star Khloe Kardashian. But do I blame the Kardashian publicity whore machine for Lamar Odom's troubles? Absolutely not. Here's why. First of all, Lamar Odom won his second championship with the Lakers DURING his marriage with Khloe Kardashian. He was the NBA's Sixth man award in 2011 DURING his marriage with Khloe Kardashian. So this notion that somehow Khloe Kardashian and her reality show cameras were responsible for Lamar Odom's basketball game deteriorating is a false one. The fact of the matter is, Lamar Odom knew exactly what he was getting into with Khloe. He knew what she was about and he was ok with it. He chose that life. And to be honest, he liked it. His NBA peak came at the same time as his reality show peak. In the end I was actually surprised the marriage lasted as long as it did. More than half the marriages in America end in divorce. So in that sense, Lamar and Khloe were no different from anyone else. I am not going to speculate on what happened between a man and his wife. All I know is Khloe Kardashian wasn't responsible for Lamar Odom's basketball decline. The real cause behind that was something that happened in his professional career.

Lamar Odom has always been an emotional player. There's nothing wrong with that. But the problem is that he never learned to channel that emotion in a positive way on the court. There are plenty of examples of emotional players channeling their negative feelings to become better players. Michael Jordan. Kevin Garnett. Kobe Bryant. But Lamar Odom simply wasn't wired that way. If he wasn't in a positive frame of mind, he wasn't able to perform to the best of his ability.

After losing in the playoffs in two consecutive seasons, the Lakers knew they had to make a change. With Lebron James joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in 2012, and the emergence of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, the Lakers knew they needed multiple superstars to compete for a championship. Andrew Bynum was injury riddled, Pau Gasol was aging, and Kobe Bryant was on the wrong side of his prime. Chris Paul, one of the greatest point guards of all-time was suddenly available and the Lakers had to pull the trigger. Unfortunately, that meant they had to give up Lamar Odom to New Orleans. Can you blame the Lakers for trying to trade him? Absolutely not. At the end of the day, this is a professional business. As a professional, you have to be able to take emotions out of it. Lamar had a great run in LA and the Lakers compensated him very well for his services. But Lamar Odom took it personally. After David Stern blocked the trade for "basketball reasons" (Don't get me started...) Lamar Odom was never the same player and the Lakers knew it. He had multiple meetings with team management and they ended up trading him to Dallas for a trade exception that ultimately helped them land Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. So at the time, it seemed like a great move for the Lakers. And I don't blame them one bit for making it. Had Lamar been a professional and not gotten butt hurt because the Lakers tried to trade him, perhaps he would still be a Laker.

Whatever the complex reasons behind Lamar Odom's troubles are, in the end I will remember him for being one of the most unique players to ever play in the NBA. For not being what he COULD HAVE been. For having all that talent and not making a single All-star game. For sacrificing for the good of the team and agreeing to come off the bench. For being one of the biggest pieces on two Laker championship teams. For being a left-handed beast in every facet of the game. For having one of the saddest lives a person can experience. For experiencing the loss of an infant child that I would not wish on my worst enemy. For falling into a drug addiction that almost any person on Earth could have fallen into. The good news is that it looks like he will recover from this latest incident. Perhaps he can write a happy ending to that long sad story. But in the end, he has to be the one to write it. All anyone else can do is cheer for him and not play the blame game. Because the only way to win that game, is not to play it at all. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Only Certainty in Life

I've been thinking about death a lot lately. Probably because two of my peers who I knew not personally but peripherally, passed away within a relatively recent time period. They were similar in age and around the same stage in their life as I am now. Young married adults with families who depend on them. Ever since then, I have asked myself the following question: 

Death is the only certainty in life. It is the only event that we all know for a fact that has a 100% chance of occurring in the life of every single person ever to be born. Yet why are so many people unprepared for it? 

Let's get one thing clear. By "unprepared" I mean in a practical sense. There is no way in hell yourself or your loved ones can be emotionally prepared for you to die a sudden unexpected death in your 30's. But you can definitely be prepared beforehand practically in case anything ever happened. 

Another clarity. By asking this question about being prepared I am in no way saying the people who passed away recently were not practically prepared. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. I did not know them well enough to know about their situation. Hearing the news of their passing simply sparked thoughts into my mind to lead me to ask this question about people in general. 

So what do I mean by being "practically prepared"? I don't like to give advice on my blog. Especially about topics that I have no expertise or experience in. But as someone who likes to think extensively and often times obsessively to the point of causing insomnia about random topics, I feel like I have some insightful thoughts to share about those topics. Sometimes that topic is the Lakers, and sometimes it's Taco Bell. This time that topic just happens to be 'death.'

This first thing you can do to be prepared for something is to actually think about it. It's pretty simple. If you want to be prepared for an earthquake, first you have to entertain the possibility in your mind that an earthquake can and might happen. Only then can you take practical steps to prepare for it. For so many people death is such as taboo they don't even like to think about it. Obviously you don't have to obsess over it for hours on end to make yourself depressed, or bring it up during your child's birthday party. But there is a time and place for it. For most people, either their ego or fear keeps them from thinking about the possibility of their own death. Either they believe it won't happen to them or they are scared it will somehow actually happen if they give some thought to it. That ego and fear must be overcome. I think everyone who is married should discuss the possibility of their deaths with their spouse. That includes making a will and letting your family know about it. If you have life insurance make sure your beneficiaries know what to do if something happens. Talk about it. Break the taboo. Communication. That's the most important factor in being prepared. 

The next thing everyone should consider is life insurance. If you lost your job right now and never got another one, can you live comfortably for the rest of your life and maintain the same quality of life you are living now? If yes, congratulations. You are filthy rich.  You don't need life insurance. But  every single person I know, and chances are every single person you know, would answer 'no' to this question. I don't care how much money you and/or your spouse makes. Even if your spouse earns a six-figure salary, do you really want them to be working that job AND be a single parent? Things like cost of living, mortgages, college funds, taxes, investments, and bills are hard enough to manage with two people. Why would you want your spouse to have to manage them on their own while at the same time trying to earn money and raise a kid? Unless your last name is Gates, Buffet, or Trump, pretty much everyone who is married with kids should have some form of life insurance or another. 

I don't want to go too much into it but some people think life insurance is a scam. And many policies out there are so bad they pretty much are scam-like. But there are different kinds of insurance. Term life insurance is the purest form of insurance. It's called term because it's temporary. It's only effective for usually 20 or 25 years. If you are still alive after that time, the policy is cancelled. The theory is that by that time your kids should be old enough to be earning their own income and you should have enough wealth saved up to leave some for your spouse. Because it's temporary, it's a lot cheaper than permanent life insurance. As a matter of fact probably around ten times cheaper. Permanent life insurance policies are a lot more expensive because they last your entire life. Makes sense. There are all kinds of policies out there. They are usually attached to different investment vehicles based on indexes and interest rates and earn cash value based on the markets and other factors. Many of them are bullshit. The costs associated with maintaining those investments often times negates any earnings you may have had, to the point where you could have been better off buying the much cheaper term policy and then investing the difference on your own. But there are some good products out there as well that guarantee you a minimum interest rate and offer you a lot of flexibility. All I can say is you should approach buying life insurance cautiously but with an open mind. But I would advise everyone with kids should have a term life insurance policy at the very least. 

This next point may seem a bit obvious. Certain things like hard work, responsibilities, discipline, and sacrifice don't necessarily feel good. But if you died without imbibing at least some of those values in your life, you may be leaving your loved ones in a very tough spot. For example, if you are stuck in a job that you hate but makes good money, it's not always the right thing for you to quit. Your family may need the financial security. Staying in that job may be the sacrifice you need to make. Not everyone has to enjoy doing their jobs. That's what the off-time is for. That brings me to my last point. 

I can't stress this next point enough. Don't be a hard ass. Enjoy life. In my opinion, that's the biggest thing you can do to overcome your fear of death. If you lived a life full of enjoyment and jovial memories, then your death will be easier to accept by everyone, including yourself. If you always choose to work overtime on your days off, just once maybe take the day off and go to the beach. Maybe pay your employee some overtime once and take your kid to the museum and show them some art. Maybe go out to eat dinner once in a while on a random Tuesday. Maybe stay up till 4 AM one time when you have family over for the holidays. Maybe let your mother-in-law put your baby to sleep one night so you guys can go watch the new movie that's coming out. Whatever it is that makes you feel good, do it once in a while. 

So here's the bottom line. How do you practically prepare for death? Discuss it with your loved ones. Get life insurance. Work hard. But also play hard. And don't have a stick up your ass. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

How to answer the question of who is the greatest shooter in NBA history...

Ever since Stephen Curry won the 2015 NBA MVP award, I have been thinking about this question a lot. Who is the greatest NBA shooter of all-time? Initially I was just trying to figure out if Curry actually deserved the MVP or not. After doing my research I concluded that James Harden was the real MVP. Twenty-one playoff games and an NBA championship later, I feel the same way. You can read about my thoughts on the NBA awards system here. But we digress...

When I was looking into Curry's numbers, I thought to myself, Holy shit! Is Curry the greatest shooter of all-time? His numbers seemed ridiculous. Then someone accused me of being a "fair weather" fan because I stopped writing my blog after the Lakers started sucking. I can assure you that is not the case. 1) My blog is about much more than just the Lakers, or sports for that matter. 2) I wrote several articles about how much the Lakers suck.  The real answer to why I stopped writing is that I got too busy with real world responsibilities. But this Curry question has got my wheels turning again and made me motivated to neglect my wife and kid so here it goes.

After doing some serious googling, I broke it down to 16 players who are candidates for the greatest shooter title. Why 16? Because a 4x4 collage was the best fit for my webpage, that's why. Deal with it.

First, I should give some honorable mentions to guys like Del Curry, Mike Miller, and Wesley Person. Also, especially with the way the NBA is played nowadays, there is no doubt youngsters like Klay Thompson and Kyrie Irving will crack this list in the near future. Before I get into the list, here is a very important question.

What factors go into answering who is the greatest shooter of all-time?
Not particularly in any order...

1. Stats - This is important. However, it may be true that numbers never lie, but stats sure as hell do. So they cannot be the only factor when judging a shooter.

2. Degree of difficulty on shots - This is also known as the eye test. A lot of the players on this list mostly shot wide-open uncontested 3's from their favorite spot on the floor. Others created their own shot with their dribbling or height advantage and shot with a hand in their face. There is no way in hell you can't factor that in.

3. The clutch factor - I could probably seriously hang with one of these guys in an empty gym shooting contest IF I caught them on a bad night and I was having a hot streak. But NBA games aren't played in an empty gym.  And everything that a player does in a game matters most in big moments towards the end of a close game.

4. The fear factor - A player's reputation matters. Why? Because the defense will react to that reputation and change the way they play. Kobe Bryant may not be great statistically when it comes to game winning shots. But the Black Mamba has a fearsome reputation so I guarantee the defense will be shitting their pants if he has the ball at the end of a close game. There is a difference between this and the clutch factor.

5. 3-pointers matter more but mid-range and free throws also count. - Shooter typically means 3-point shooter but you have to account for other kinds of shooting at least a little bit. A pure shooter should be great at the mid-range game as well as free throws. Otherwise, it just makes him sort of a gimmicky player. Bruce Bowen would be on this great shooter list if it wasn't for the fact that he was a career 57% free throw shooter. He wasn't a pure shooter. He was just great at shooting wide open 3's from the corner. That's what I call a gimmick.

Using these factors, who is the best shooter of all-time?

16. Pete Maravich

"Pistol" Pete was a player who was truly ahead of his time. He was your grandfather's Stephen Curry. Although he mostly played in an era before the 3 point line, he is on this list for 2 reasons: Factors 2 and 4. He was one of the best players ever at getting off his own shot. Probably one of the first players ever to dribble between his legs in an NBA game. And he has one of the most feared reputations amongst people of his generation.

15. Drazen Petrovic

Unfortunately, Drazen died in a tragic car accident in 1993. I never saw him play but he belongs on this list for the same reasons as Pete Maravich. He was a great shooter who could get off his own shot. From watching tapes he was porbably one of the best shooters with a hand in his face. As far his reputation is concerned, anyone who saw him ball will tell you Drazen Petrovic didn't take shit from anyone. Not even Michael Jordan. He never backed down from a fight. The 6 years he did play in the NBA, he ended up shooting better than 50% from the field and 43% from the 3. Had he lived, Drazen Petrovic probably would have been one of my favorite players. And he very well might have ended up number 1 on this list. RIP.

14. Dale Ellis

In the beginning of his career Dale Ellis was more of a well rounded scorer than just a shooter. Later on, as a role player, he became a deadly 3 point specialist. At first glance you would imagine a 17 year career of shooting almost 48% from the field, 40% from 3 and being an all-star caliber player at one point would land you higher on this list. But for some reason, Dale Ellis wasn't a great free throw shooter. He wasn't awful like Bruce Bowen, but he is the only player on this list to have a career free throw percentage in the 70s, at 78%.

13. Mark Price

A historically underrated player, Mark Price was Steve Nash before Steve Nash. Along with Nash and Steph Curry, Price is the only other player to have a career free throw percentage better than 90%. Nash has him beat by 0.001. A four time all-star, and career shooting percentages of 47/40/90, Mark Price probably would have ended up higher on this list had he played longer than 12 seasons.

12. Jeff Hornacek

Famous for rubbing his face as part of his free throw routine, Jeff Hornacek's name was synonymous with the word accuracy. Any time there was a dorky looking guy who could shoot on the playgrounds, he would be compared to Jeff Hornacek. No doubt playing with the likes of Stockton and Malone helped him get tons of open shots, but Hornacek was a consistent 40%'er from 3 long before he arrived in Utah. The only reason why Jeff Hornacek is not higher on this list is because he didn't quite shoot enough. With only a little more than 2000 3-point attempts, most of the other players on this list have around twice as many.

11. Glen Rice

If asthetics were a factor, Glen Rice might be number 1 or 2 on this list. He had one of the sweetest looking jump shots ever. Much like Dale Ellis, for the first half of his career, Glen Rice was more of a scorer than a shooter. Think Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony. As he aged, he gained a little bit of weight and became less athletic, but was nevertheless a deadly 3 point shooter. A career 40% 3 point shooter despite being his team's number one scoring option (and a target for defenses) for most of his career earns him a spot on this list. 

10. Peja Stojakovic

The most overlooked quality about Peja Stojakovic was his strength and size as a shooter. Because he was only a shooter, he never used this in any other part of his game. Towards the end of a long grueling game, most shooters begin to fall short on their shots as they rack up the minutes and get tired. But at 6'9/220 Peja had the strength to keep shooting accurately. If you asked me who could hit the most 3's out of a 1000 straight shots, my answer would Peja. Simply because some of the other guys might not be strong enough to shoot well towards the end. 

9. Kevin Durant

If this was a list about the best scorers, Kevin Durant would be much higher. Durant is such a good offensive player in every facet of the game, that his abilities as a pure shooter are often overlooked. He probably has the longest range out of anyone on this list. As a 3-point shooter, he is very streaky, resulting in a career 38%. That's pretty good, but most of the other guys on this list are at 40-plus. He is only half way through his career however, and as the legend of Kevin Durant grows, there is no doubt he will end up much higher than 9.

8. Dirk Nowizki

Like Durant, Dirk is also has a career 3-point percentage of 38%. But also like Durant, Dirk is much more than just a shooter. Unlike most players, who depend more on long-range shooting as they age, Dirk has gone away from the 3-point shot as he has gotten older. He has learned to play closer to the basket. He has also maxed out factors 2-5 mentioned above. Dirk rarely gets an open shot, and more often than not he is shooting with his back to the basket, off one leg, over the hands of multiple defenders. The degree of difficulty on Dirk's shots is unmatched in the league. He is also as clutch and fearsome as they come.

7. Steve Kerr

This seven-time NBA champion may turn out to be the next Phil Jackson or Greg Popovich. As a player, there was no one more accurate in the history of the league at shooting 3-pointers than Steve Kerr. His career 3-point percentage of 45% is unmatched and has to be respected. Why is he not higher on this list? For one, he didn't shoot enough. (1599 3-point attempts) Probably because he was a very limited role player and didn't play a lot of minutes. Kerr also played with multiple hall-of-famers his entire career who did nothing but get him great wide-open looks from the arc. You still have to give him credit for hitting those shots though, especially in the clutch.

6. Kyle Korver

Besides Reggie Miller and Ray Allen, there is no one better on this list at hitting jump shots coming off screens. Kyle Korver holds the record for 3-point percentage in a single season at 53% in 2009-2010. That's insane. Do you realize what that means? Kyle Korver can hit 3's more accurately than a lot of players can hit lay-ups. Over the last 4 seasons, he has been shooting 41%, 43%, 45% and 47% from the 3 with increasing attempts. With a career of 43% from 3 and 88% from the free throw line, Kyle Korver may end up a lot closer to 1 by the time he retires.

5. Larry Bird

A two time member of the 50/40/90 club, Larry Bird has the clutch and fear factors oozing out of his pores. There was no bigger trash talker and mentally tough player than Larry legend. He was so confident in his abilities as a shooter, he would tell the defender where he was going and how he was going to shoot it. Then he would swish the shot and do it all over again. The 3-point line was relatively new when he played, and it wasn't as big a part of the game as it is today. Had he played in today's league he would have had much better numbers in that department. But if you go by the eye test alone, Larry Bird might be 1 or 2.

4. Steve Nash

When you think Steve Nash you think of passing first. For that reason, when you combine his abilities to shoot from the 2, 3, and free throw line, Steve Nash might be the most underrated shooter of all-time. The man is the greatest free throw shooter in the history of the NBA at 90.4%. For 14 of his 18 total seasons in the league, he shot at least 40% from the 3-point line. 5 out of his last 6 seasons, he shot better than 90% from the free throw line. And perhaps most incredibly, he shot better than 50% overall field goals for 5 seasons. As a point guard! That's almost unheard of. He is also a four-time member of the 50/40/90 club. No other player has done that more than twice. He probably didn't deserve his 2 MVP's, but definitely deserves more credit as a shooter.

3. Ray Allen

For much of his career, Ray Allen was a scorer. After he was traded to Boston and became the third option on the Big 3, he made himself into a Reggie Miller type pure shooter. He became incredible at coming off screens and hitting crazy 3's fading away from the basket. Just ask the Spurs. When it comes to practice, there is no shooter who works harder than Ray Allen. A two-time champion, he hit clutch shot after clutch shot for his teams. As a Laker fan, I can tell you he scared the shit out of me in the two Finals we played against Boston. His accuracy stats have always varied greatly depending on his team situation, but right now Jesus Shuttlesworth is the all-time leader in 3-pointers made and it's not even close.

2. Reggie Miller

How much of the fear factor did Reggie Miller have in him? Well, enough for ESPN to make an entire 30 for 30 documentary about it. When Reggie Miller had his legendary playoff battles against the Knicks, he made the entire city of New York clench their assholes with fear every time he took a shot. He famously scored 8 points in 8 seconds to win a playoff game against the Knicks. He was so much of a Knick Killer that the word "Knicks" comes up 22 times in his Wikipedia entry. Besides Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller might be the single biggest reason the Knicks don't have a title since 1973. There was no one better at moving without the ball, coming off screens, kicking his legs up in the air while shooting to draw a foul, and pissing you off. Just ask Kobe Bryant. 

1. Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry excels at every single factor discussed earlier. As far as the stats are concerned, in his 6 seasons so far, Curry is shooting the 3-pointer at 44%. That's only 1% lower than the all-time leader, his coach Steve Kerr. But the degree of difficulty is at least 10 times higher on most of Curry's shots. Because he is the primary ball handler, distributor, AND scorer on his team, he doesn't always get wide-open looks. Besides Kevin Durant and Dirk Nowitzki, there is no one better at creating his own jump shot. But unlike those guys, Curry is a 6-foot guard, which makes it even more impressive. There has never been anyone better at pulling up and shooting off the dribble. His quick handles help create just a tiny space, and his quick release, perhaps the quickest ever, helps him get a shot off in that tiny space. He is also great at catching and shooting off screens. We saw in these playoffs he is developing into a clutch and feared player. His accuracy is something we have never seen before when you take into account the amount and difficulty of long range shots he takes. He is also a career 90% free throw shooter so far. What more can you ask for in a shooter? Now that he has his championship, a couple more crazy clutch shots like he had against New Orleans in the 2015 playoffs, and there will be no doubt Stephen Curry will be a unanimous choice in everyone's mind, for the best shooter of all-time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

3 HUGE lessons to learn from the Donald Sterling saga

The last time I wrote an article on this joint, I defended Dwight Howard and blamed Laker fans for unfairly criticizing him. Then the traitorous bastard left us for Houston and I stopped writing for a while. So first of all, even though I was 100% right about what I said about that asshole, I apologize to all my fellow Laker fans for not joining on the hate early. (Although that very same hate might have been responsible for him leaving in the first place.) So anyways, 12 months, a trip to the motherland, a pregnant wife, and a baby later, I am back! (I thought about writing about the baby as my first article back but hey, you have to keep your priorities in order. So I chose to write about Donald Sterling instead.)

Lesson # 1: All press is good press...Sort of...

Answer this: If the Sterling tape was never leaked, and if Donald Sterling put up the Clippers for sale because he wanted to sell the team, without any controversy, would he have gotten the same price? Before you answer, keep in mind that the Forbes 2014 valuation for the Clippers was at 575 million. The highest any NBA team had ever been sold for was 550 million. (Milwaukee Bucks last month.) My answer is no. 

The Donald Sterling controversy was responsible for two very big factors that lead to the Clippers being sold for 2 billion dollars. The first and most important being that it increased the profile of the team. The Clippers became a household name in the non-sports household. The controversy shined a spotlight on the team's extremely likable superstar leader Chris Paul. The controversy shined a spotlight on the team's wise black coach who is beloved by everyone that knows him. The controversy shined a spotlight on the high flying Lob City duo of Blake Griffin and Deondray Jordan. As a direct result of this increased profile,  the Clippers franchise became more desirable in the eyes of those who can afford to buy a team. Prime example: Do you really think Oprah even gave two shits about the Clippers before the Donald Sterling controversy? I HIGHLY doubt it. She might not even have known they existed. And all of a sudden we hear that she wants to buy the team? The line of billionaire celebrities that wanted to buy this team went up to the Staples Center 300 section. And most of those people wouldn't have been in that line if this was a regular controversy-free sale of an NBA franchise.  

The second factor that came into play because of the leaked tape is a very basic economic principle. When you have a motivated seller, you will get a better price if you are the buyer. But a seller who is being FORCED to sell and is willing to fight to the death for his right NOT to sell? You can only imagine what motivated billionaires that want something will try to pay for something they can't have. And that is exactly what happened. The bidding started and everyone knew they had to go high in order to get Sterling to stop fighting and sell, and Steve Ballmer's bid turned out to be the highest. So ironically Donald Sterling's moronic words were responsible for him getting $2 billion for a team that he was FORCED to sell, which is more than TWICE as much as he would have gotten had he wanted to sell the team on his own. If I had not seen how much of an imbecile he looked on Anderson Cooper, I would have guessed he had planned the whole thing all along...Or maybe even that was just an act...Nah, he's too much of a moron for that. 

Lesson #2: The NBA only cares about one thing: The NBA

When everyone was calling for the NBA to do something about Donald Sterling, I was asking myself, why would they do anything? They already know he's a racist. It's been well documented in the past and the NBA has looked the other way. But of course when you are in the middle of the playoffs, and it's been one of the greatest first rounds of all time, in a point in time when the NBA has never been more popular or profitable than now, THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL YOU CAN HAVE PLAYERS BOYCOTTING PLAYOFF GAMES. Besides a swarm of killer bees being unleashed in the arena during game 7 of the Finals, playoff boycotts would basically be the worst case scenario, the 9/11 of any sports league. THAT was the difference between Sterling's discretions in the past and this one. This one affected the league's money/brand/popularity/image. So when NBA commisioner Adam Silver uttered the words "Banned for life" and imposed a maximum fine on Donald Sterling, forgive me if I didn't join in on the Martin Luther King Jr. comparisons. If you disagree, I need you to click on this link for me. Don't's not porn or some sort of virus.

Lesson #3: Steve Ballmer DID NOT overpay for the Clippers

According to Forbes, the Clippers net operating profit is approximately $15 million per year. With the $2 billion price tag, it would take Steve Ballmer about 133 years to break even if he never sold the team. Obviously these are rough estimates and I am not taking into account future improvements on operating profits, TV deals, and other factors. But even WITH all of that, this is not a very good investment in roughly financial terms by any estimation. Of course that could all change if another billionaire wants to buy this team for even higher. But what I am getting at here is that this is not a business investment. This is a toy. This is like me and you buying an XBOX. Let me put it in a context everyone can understand: 

If you loved taking it up the ass, but you weren't gay, and there were only 30 dildos made on Earth, and out of that only one dildo was immediately available for sale, and cucumbers/carrots/eggplants/bananas were all extinct, and you had pretty much an unimaginable amount of money, how much would you pay for that dildo? Exactly. Steve Ballmer's dildo is the Clippers. 

Lesson #4: In the end, Donald Sterling got EXACTLY what he deserved

Yes, you read that correctly. First of all, in a cosmic/karmic way, Donald Sterling should have been punished. Yes, he was illegally recorded and he has the freedom to say what he wants. So maybe he shouldn't have been punished for this specific incident, but he has gone unpunished for all the bullshit shenanigans he has pulled off in the past. The housing discrimination, the media manipulation, the unfair treatment of employees, all of the stunts he has pulled off with Clippers players coaches and executives. So I have no problem for punishing him for this when all the shit before has gone unpunished. 

With that said, many people are saying that Sterling walking away with $2 billion is not a punishment. But Sterling was worth 2 billion BEFORE the sale of the Clippers. When you are in your 80's what's another 2 billion when you already have 2 billion? Money doesn't mean shit to Donald Sterling at this point. The $2 billion is just a consolation prize for being illegally recorded in his own home. He already has so much money that he doesn't get off on making a huge profit. What the old racist bastard gets off on is being an "owner" of a franchise. He gets off on being an "owner" of black athletes. He gets off on sitting court-side as the "owner" and everyone looking at him and saying, look, that's Donald Sterling, the "owner" of the Clippers. He gets off on being the boss of people and paying them money for working for him.  He gets off on heckling and criticizing his own players (Baron Davis) DURING the game. He gets off on negotiating contracts, evaluating and devaluating players, and firing coaches and GMs, and not paying them according to their contracts. He gets off on bringing his friends and mistresses to the game of HIS franchise of which he is the "owner". And now, he cannot do any of that! He can't be the "owner." That is is a HUGE punishment for someone like Donald Sterling. If you can't understand this, it's simple...just go back and use the dildo analogy...

Thanks for reading!
Yours truly,
The King of Nothing

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Unfair Criticism of Dwight Howard. What Gives?

As I do everyday, I woke up this morning and sat on the shitter going over the Facebook newsfeed on my iPhone. There I noticed some people had a couple of not-so-nice things to say about Dwight Howard. Without mentioning any names, here are a couple of them:

Dwight please don't resign with the Lakers. You'll never win a championship.

I rather have 2014 cap space and draft picks anyways. #signandtradeD12

As I read these comments, I panicked. I thought Dwight had signed somewhere else. So I checked ESPN. Fortunately, he hadn't left yet. (Then I remembered he's not a free agent until July 1st.) Immediately, my next thought was to dust off the old jizz-stained laptop keys and write my next blog article. Here is a nice first thought:


Let's get something clear. I am not saying Dwight Howard is the best player in the league or better than Kobe or even a #1 franchise player. He has two huge flaws:

1. His head
2. Limited offensively

But is there another NBA superstar without any major flaws not named Lebron James? The answer is no! These flaws are no reason to get rid of Dwight. He is still the best center in the league. Who would you rather have in his place? Blake Griffin is an athlete who happens to play basketball. He is not a basketball player. Roy Hibbert has had a good playoff series. Let's see him turn that into multiple All-NBA seasons before we turn him into Hakeem Olajuwon. Marc Gasol? At some point I would like to write an entire article on why he is overrated. Omer Asik? Andrew Bynum? Tyson Chandler? Not even close. There is a reason why every team with cap space is chomping at the bits waiting to get their hands on Dwight. There is a reason why the Lakers have made Dwight their number 1 priority despite having their worst season ever. These GMs are smarter than you! (and me.) So before you unfairly blame Dwight for this past season, try to gain some perspective on the situation:

1. The back injury was a real thing. I know it sounds like an excuse, but Dwight himself is the one who came back early from the back surgery, so everyone expected him to be 100%. If he had not come back early, people would have realized the back injury was more serious and maybe they would have cut him a little slack. Remember in the beginning of the season, Dwight wasn't even supposed to come back until January. And the dude ended up playing in the freaking preseason! For the sake of the team!  This set him up from the very beginning to have a season with lingering injury issues. He wasn't 100% at any point in the entire season. 

Injuries weren't only an issue for Dwight. This was the most injury riddled Lakers team EVER! Look at the number of games missed by key Lakers players:

Dwight Howard: 6
Pau Gasol: 33
Meta World Peace: 7
Kobe Bryant: 4
Steve Nash: 33
Jordan Hill: The whole season!
Steve Blake: 37

With even 10% less injuries the Lakers could have had a better record and much better playoff situation. I mean they had freaking Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock starting in the playoffs!!! That kind of injury situation, combined with all the bullshit that I wrote about in the next paragraph, is a bad situation for any superstar. Forget Dwight Howard, Michael Jordan could not have had a positive outcome playing for the 2012-2013 Lakers.

2. Within a span of about 6 months, the Lakers traded for a different starting center, traded for a different starting point guard, signed two new key role players, installed a new offense, fired their head coach 5 games into the season, ditched the new offense, hired a brand new coach in the middle of the season, installed a brand new offense in the middle of the season. Are you fucking kidding me? This is not Major League Baseball. You cannot put together a bunch of different parts together and hope to win right away. Basketball is much more of a team game. It requires continuity and chemistry between the players and the coaches. The 2008 Boston Celtics does not happen very often. None of those changes can be blamed on Dwight Howard. The Lakers management is to blame here. Firing a bad coach to hire another bad one. Trying to implement a run-and-gun offense with an aging team. Handling the coaching search in the worst way possible. Maybe the Laker fans should all unite against Jimmy Buss instead of Dwight Howard. 

3. Dwight Howard cannot guard 4 players by himself. The Lakers' defense was horrible this year. But I don't understand why people are blaming D12 for that. I don't care how good of a defender you are. If you are surrounded by the worst defensive starting 4 in the league, you are not going to look good defensively. Everyone is raving about Roy Hibbert's defense in the playoffs. He played great. But don't be so quick to declare him better than Dwight. Let's compare the defensive help they had:

Hibbert's PG: George Hill (Young, athletic, excellent defender)
Dwight's PG: Steve Nash (Old, slow, maybe the worst defender in the league at his position?)

Hibbert's SG: Lance Stevenson (Young, athletic, energetic, no pressure or expectations)
Dwight's SG: Kobe Bryant (Old, at one point a great defender, now he chooses not to play defense, plays too much help defense forgetting about his own man, gambles way too much to go for steals, way too much pressure on him on the offensive end to also play excellent defense)

Hibbert's SF: Paul George (Young, athletic, maybe the best defender in the league, was even able to contain Lebron)
Dwight's SF: Meta World Peace (Old, slow, fat, good hands but maybe the slowest SF in the league when it comes to foot speed)

Hibbert's PF: David West (Strong in the post on both ends, one of the toughest players in the league)
Dwight's PF: Pau Gasol (Getting older, questions about being soft)

So before we all get out our pitch forks and run the best center in the league out of our city, just take a second to breath, and remember that Dwight still led the league in rebounding, was the starting center on the All-Star team, and made 3rd team All-NBA in a year where it was impossible for him to succeed. That is his worst year. If you ask me, that's pretty damn good for a worst year. His best year will consist of an MVP and a trip to the finals. Will he be the best offensive player or the emotional leader of the team when that happens? Probably not. But he was, is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the best center in the league. So unless you are prepared for life without him, beware watch you ask for Laker fans...

Thanks for reading!
Yours truly,
The King of Nothing

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The One and Only Certainty for the Lakers: CHANGE

As I sit at my desk writing my first article after the longest break I have ever taken from this blog, I amreminded of the first time I took some time away from writing. It was back in June 2012. Here is the first article I wrote upon returning. At the time, I strongly felt the urge to drain my man period, or manstruation, if you will, by cursing, ranting and raving. This time, it is different. I don't feel the urge to spend an entire paragraph saying the word "fuck" or call people retards or make racist comments. Don't get me wrong. I still have those feelings. I am still the same angry racist asshole you know and love. But I just don't feel the need to go out of my way to express my inner asshole. (Instead I just vent my frustrations through my outer asshole sitting on the toilet.) Maybe I am getting old. Maybe my testosterone levels are slowly declining. Or maybe I am just getting fatter and lazier. Whatever it is, here is the point:


Brace yourselves Laker fans (and haters). Changes are coming. BIG TIME! If there is one thing we can all learn from this Kobe Bryant injury, it is this: Kobe Bryant will rehab and work his ass off and be back and he will be a top tier player when he returns. No doubt. He will be ready. But will the Lakers be ready? I am more worried about the rest of the roster hell of a lot more than I am worried about Kobe Bryant with a torn achilles.

Back in 2009, I was talking with a friend of mine from pharmacy school. We were discussing the upcoming NBA playoffs. I casually mentioned to my buddy that I didn't think Dwight Howard was serious enough to win a championship. I thought he goofed around too much. I thought he liked to laugh and smile and make jokes just a little too much. Then a few weeks went by and Dwight Howard single-handedly carried a weak Magic team to the Finals. "I guess I was wrong," I said to myself. In reference to that thought, today I sit here saying "I guess I was wrong," once again. (I am sticking to my original thought of Dwight not being serious enough.) So here is the bottom line: Unless he dramatically changes his on-court personality(not impossible), Dwight Howard will never win a championship being the best player on his team. 

I think whether Dwight Howard resigns with the Lakers or not is irrelevant. Here is why: Whether he resigns or not, the Lakers are not going to be good enough next year to win a championship. Due to the contract and cap situations, the Lakers will be limited in what they can do to their roster. And whether he resigns or not, after next year, the Lakers will be contenders. Why?

Because they have only one player signed for the 2014-2015 season. Wait. Let me repeat that. The Los Angeles Lakers have only one player signed on for the 2014-2015 season!!! That player is Steve Nash at around 9 million. That means they have more than 80 MILLION DOLLARS coming off the books in the summer of 2014. Now of course some of that money will be used to resign Dwight, Kobe (at a much lower price) and maybe Pau (also at a much lower price). Regardless, they will have more cap room than they have ever had in the modern free agent era. And being the Los Angeles Lakers, they will attract some big time free agents. Here are some POTENTIAL free agents in the summer of 2014:

Dirk Nowitzki
Tony Parker
John Wall
Dwayne Wade
Lebron James
Chris Bosh
Luol Deng
Paul George
Carmelo Anthony
Zach Randolph
+ A bunch of other really good young role players and upcoming players that can be available.

With all the good team trying to limit their spending in order to avoid the luxury tax bill, and the bad teams not being as good of a destination as LA, I think the Lakers are going to revamp their entire team with a  bunch of new free agents in that summer. I am not saying all of these players I listed want to come to the Lakers. The Lakers may not even have a shot at some of these players. But if they can just sign a couple of those young big names, or maybe three, put them along side some sort of combination of Dwight/Pau (will be getting paid much less than now if he sticks around/Kobe (will be getting paid much less than now)/Nash, and recharge their bench with some young athletes, the Lakers will be contenders again...soon.

Lakers being contenders is not so surprising. Almost everyone can predict that will happen, just because they are the Lakers. But whether or not they will be perennial contenders on a verge of starting another dynasty will all depend on the coaching situation. I have been frustrated with the Lakers coaching situation for a while now. Every day I go to a wishing well near my house and through in loose change wishing the Lakers would fire Mike D'antoni. Lately I have been throwing in hundred dollar bills. Short of winning the first round playoff series against Pop (The best coach in the league) and the Spurs, I don't there is anything D'antoni can do to save his job. The problem is, I am not running the Lakers. Jimmy Buss is.

And as far as all the Laker haters are concerned, laugh it up right now. You have this short window until the summer of 2014 to clown on the Lakers all you want. They may be down right now, but the greatest franchise in the history of sports will rise again. Change may be inevitable when it comes to their roster, but one thing that never changes and never will, is that the Lakers will always be good again... 
...and that's just the way it is...

Thanks for reading!
Yours truly,
The King of Nothing

Saturday, November 3, 2012

2012-2013 Los Angeles Lakers State of the Union: 0-3

Before I begin this article, I would like to just say one thing:

When I go back and read this at the end of the 2012-2013 NBA season, I hope I can say I was wrong. I fucked up. I misjudged the Lakers. I overexagerated their problems. I overreacted to the bad start. I underestimated this entire team. My bad. If I can say that about myself in mid June 2013, I will be a very happy man. Let's begin. 

If you analyze this Laker team, you can come to one of two conclusions:

1. The Lakers have many problems.
- Bad defensive strategy
- Bad offensive strategy
- Unexplainable coaching decisions
- Lack of fundamental skills
- Carelessness

2. The Lakers have only problem.
- Mike Brown

Here is the kicker: No matter which conclusion you chose to believe, it all leads back to the coaching staff...and who is the head coach of the Lakers??? MIKE FUCKING BROWN! Let's address all of his problems, one by one.

PROBLEM #1: Defense
Isn't Mike Brown supposed to be a defensive coach? He earned his stripes in Greg Popavich's staff as a defensive specialist. He was supposedly responsible for all the great defense they played when they won those early rings. Something tells me players like David Robinson, Tim Duncan, Mario Ellie, Bruce Bowen, and Avery Johnson had more to do with that great defense than Mike Brown. He left the Spurs and they haven't really skipped a beat on defense. I will admit, during Mike Brown's fist year with the Lakers in 2011-2012, I felt the defense was much better than with Phil's last few years. (At least in the regular season.) But so far, contrary to what everyone believes, the Lakers biggest problem has been defense. Here are the point totals for their first 3 opponents of the season: 99, 116, 105.

You tell me. When you have Dwight Howard (easily the best defensive player in the league), Meta World Peace (former defensive player of the year), Kobe Bryant (9 time All-defensive team), and Pau Gasol (> 7ft wingspan, better than average defensive player), and you give up those kind of point totals, especially when 2 of those 3 teams (Dallas and Portland) aren't expected to make the playoffs, there is something internally wrong with your strategy. The Lakers keep wanting to funnel everything to their 7 footers. That is a good strategy only if your defense breaks down. But to use that as your primary defensive strategy? That's a flaw. Here is why:

1. Risk of Dwight getting in foul trouble when he keeps having to pick up driving guards. 

Evidence: Game 1: Dwight fouls out. Game 2: Dwight has 5 fouls. Game 3: Dwight has 3 fouls in the first half and has to spend most of it on the bench meanwhile Clippers take control of the game and never look back.

2. When Player A funnels his man funnel towards Player B, Player B becomes a help defender. In turn, Player C becomes a help defender since he now has to account for Player B's man. In turn, player D becomes a help defender and so forth... When you play a decent offensive team, they will get wide open looks all game long when you keep having to play help defense and run towards offensive players with the ball. 

Evidence: Game 1: Brandon Wright goes 5-5 when his man Dwight Howard keeps having to help on Darren Collison, Elton Brand, and Beaubois. Game 2: This time they picked up Dwight's man. But that left the perimeter open. Wesley Mathews goes 4/6 from deep, and Batum had 9 good looks from deep. Luckily he only made 3 of them. 

How do you fix this? It's not easy. I admit. Especially when you have a major defensive flaw at point guard. First of all, they have to play straight up. Chances are, the PG will not be able to keep his man in check. But that's fine. They have Dwight on defense as a BACK UP if it breaks down. The guards also have to do a better job of fighting through the screens and recognizing who they are playing. If it's a good shooter, they can't go under the screen and they can't go softly. They have to fight OVER the screen with strength and speed. If it's an average shooter but someone that can drive, they should go UNDER the screen and take away the drive. More often than not, the players make wrong decision. That's a coaching issue!

PROBLEM #2: Offense 
When Mike Brown was asked why he doesn't run more pick and roll, he said the pick and roll offense is too simple and predictable. Well, if that is the case, why does every single team in the league run it? Especially in the moments that matter. And if it so simple and predictable, how come the Lakers cannot stop it on the defensive end when the opposition keeps running it against them over and over again? Especially now with all this criticism, Mike Brown will not turn to the pick and roll because that would mean him having to admit he was wrong. If you don't want to run it every single time, at least run it two or three times per quarter. At least run it once in crunch time. How can you not, when you have the perfect players to do so? At some point, you have to admit you were wrong, and do the right thing.

And why does everyone think Eddie Jordan is some kind of offensive genius of all of a sudden? If he was, he wouldn't have been available for an assistant coaching gig. He would have been a head coach somewhere. The guy 257-343 was as a head coach. That's only a 428 winning percentage. That Princeton offense of his doesn't have a great track record.

PROBLEM #3: Bad coaching decisions
Why does Mike Brown insist on sitting Chris Duhon? I understand he is not a great NBA player. Maybe not even a good NBA player. There must be a reason why he was just a throw-in in the Dwight Howard trade. But surely, he must be better than Darius fucking Morris. Duhon is a seasoned vet with starting PG experience. That has to mean something. He has to be good enough to be a 3rd point guard on an NBA rotation.

On the same token, what is the fascination with Devin Ebanks? He's garbage. I don't understand why the Laker organization is so enamored with this guy. Any other team would have cut him a year ago. They keep hoping he will turn into Trevor Ariza circa 2009. I got news for you. Don't hold your breath.

PROBLEM #4: Lack of Fundamental Skills
I don't mean dribbling or shooting or footwork. I am talking about specialized fundamental skills based on the make up of your team. For example, Ray Allen mastered the fundamental skill of running without the ball and getting himself open for 3's based on his team's offense in Boston. Mainly, it involved Rondo's passing abilities. Blake Griffin and D. Jordan have mastered the skill of trailing a play or cutting towards the hoop for alley-oops when Chris Paul is driving or making plays. David West mastered the skill of setting a screen and then popping open for an open jump shot with Chris Paul in New Orleans. In the same way, the Lakers have great post players. So the perimeter players need to master a skill that takes advantage of that. That skill is the art of the post entry pass.

It sounds simple. But it's not. When there is heavy pressure on the passer and/or the post player, it is very tough to make a pass into the post player. That doesn't mean its impossible. Right now, the Laker players (MWP, Blake, Ebanks, Jamison, Morris, etc) just take one look at the post-up guy calling for the ball, and then decide to swing the ball to the weak side. That's why Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol only end up with 7 shots in the entire game. That's why they get frustrated. That's why they pick up fouls. The Laker dynasty in the early 2000's was based entirely on this skill. Robert Horry, Rick Fox, Ron Harper, Brian Shaw, and yes, even Kobe Bryant were masters at getting Shaq the ball no matter how much defensive pressure there was. Ironically, Kobe is the only guy on this team that knows how to make a post entry pass. Mike Brown needs to realize this and run some drills in practice that allow the players to master the skill of making a post entry pass.

PROBLEM #5: Carelessness
Why are the players so careless with the ball? Because they are not scared of the consequences. Why are they not scared of the consequences? Because they don't respect Mike Brown. Would you? Just look at the following picture. No successful coach in the history of the NBA has ever made that face.

Thanks for reading!
Yours truly, 
The King of Nothing

PS. Before the season I was 100% sure I was going to switch Time Warner Cable since Directv hasn't picked up the Lakers yet. Now, with each loss, I become one step closer to not caring about watching the Lakers this season. Not because I am a bandwagon fan, (Cuz I am not.) But because I know I will ultimately be disappointed as long as Mike Brown is the head coach of the Lakers.