September 22, 1971. Louisville, Kentucky. Freedom Hall.
Just over 40 years ago the Baltimore Bullets made the 600-mile trip west from Northern Virginia, where they had battled the N.B.A.’s New York Knickerbockers in their preseason opener the night before, to square off against the Kentucky Colonels of the American Basketball Association in the biggest game few today have ever heard about. The contest would be the second act in an Inter-League Exhibition Game (ILEG) series, a sporting event invented by the owners who were looking for something to make “airing out the big arenas, sweeping the floor and printing up tickets worthwhile,” amid rumors of a merger between the two roundball associations. Though early on, these exhibitions were not well publicized, they weren’t without meaning.
The 1971 ILEG series was headlined by two N.B.A. titans, the Milwaukee Bucks and the Baltimore Bullets, both gearing up for another shot at an N.B.A. championship. They were scheduled to play five A.B.A. squads in five A.B.A. cities; the games were held in A.B.A. cities like Louisville and Winston-Salem for the simple reason that the N.B.A. didn’t want to legitimize the upstart league.
Fix This Mess. [Southeast-Southwest Freeway - 12th & K St. SE - Washington, D.C. - photo: K. Weidie]
Whomever put the debate over Basketball Related Income (“BRI”) at the forefront of the NBA Lockout argument between players and owners knew what they were doing, assuming they were working in favor of the owners. At least this is in terms of public perception, but does either side care about the public anyway? No, not really, it seems.
Fifty-fifty is what we’ve been taught is fair; “even-steven” is intrinsically connected to our humanity. Disregard concerns otherwise when it comes to the lockout, the focus has been how to split the BRI between owners and players. Under the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), the players received 57-percent of all NBA BRI, and for the purposes of new CBA negotiations, players have indicated that they are willing to reduce their BRI to 53-percent and have stuck staunchly to that (although recent reports indicate the players might lower their demands to 52-percent).
This may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back which then caused that camel to fall on the puppy holding a bouquet of flowers for his puppy girlfriend while they nuzzled wet puppy noses in a field of porcelain angels surrounded by butterflies and rainbows, and ice cream.
Did you hear what JaVale McGee did?
Maybe you read about it. Maybe somebody told you. Or, you can listen to JaVale McGee himself over a tape recorder, via the L.A. Times website, saying, “There’s definitely some guys in there saying that they’re ready to fold, but there are some guys, a majority of us, are ready to stand strong,” when asked by a reporter outside of a National Basketball Players Association meeting if players are standing strong against the NBA lockout, or if some are saying that they’re ready to go back to work.
Maybe McGee was earnest and right, but a negotiator with media concerns in mind he is not.
[The deflated NBA - Lowell School basketball court, N.W. Washington, D.C. - photo: K. Weidie]
What does the latest lockout news, the cancellation of the first two weeks of the season, mean for player development, fan loyalty, media coverage, and if a season will be played at all? The collective knowledge of TAI contributors — Rashad Mobley, John Converse Townsend, Beckley Mason, Adam McGinnis, and myself – weigh in, on the scale of 1-5.
1) Scale 1-5: How much does the lockout set player development/rebuilding back for the Wizards — 5 being a huge setback; 1 being no big deal?
Mobley: The reality is that the Wizards would have been in rebuilding mode even without the lockout. What it has done is give franchise-player John Wall, an extended summer to flex the new found confidence in his game, and ideally that will be contagious. Ideally. 1.
Sabermetrics. They have been a continous hot topic of conversation in modern sports circles, recently sparked (and fueled) by Jonah Lehrer’s Grantland column, The Math Problem. Lehrer argued that while sabermetrics — the computerized measurement of statistics, in this case basketball data — can be extremely useful at times, the allure of definitive measures of production leads us to ignore the oft-underrated intangibles. Worse, the popular obsession with quantifiable sports values has resulted in shortsighted personnel decisions. The horror!
But this post isn’t about the great paradox of sports statistics nor whether dismissing math in sports is the right call. It’s about how Washington Wizards 2011 draft pick Jan Vesely played on paper — was he a slam dunk in Europe or something less spectacular?
Our friendly neighborhood basketball statistician, ESPN.com’s John Hollinger, has determined that there is a predictable relationship between how a player performs in the Euroleague and how he will compete as a rookie in the Association. When transitioning to the NBA, a Euroleague player’s pace-adjusted per-minute stats will be affected as follows: Read more »
As the NBA regular season has concluded and the playoffs are now underway, sports pundits peppered the airwaves and series of tubes last week with playoffs prognostications. Storylines were plentiful abound.
Can the Los Angeles Lakers three-peat? Will the Kendrick Perkins trade prevent Boston Celtics from a championship? Do the San Antonio Spurs have another title in them? Will Lebron James finally get a ring now that he’s surrounded himself with more talent? Can the Oklahoma City Thunder or Chicago Bulls parlay their regular season accomplishments into deep playoff runs?
While the opinions of media members and fans do carry some weight (just ask them!), I thought it would be a good idea to ask the players, who actually compete against playoff the participants, what two teams they see making the NBA finals and who will win it all.
I complied the predictions of Washington Wizards John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Mo Evans, Nick Young, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, JaVale McGee, Othyus Jeffers, and Coach Flip Saunders in the video below. Watch to find out which two players chose to be coy in their responses.
During last Friday’s Washington Wizards win over New Jersey Nets, Comcast’s Chris Miller had an in-game interview with JaVale McGee’s mother, Pamela. The questions centered around her thoughts on JaVale being selected for the All-Star dunk contest. She talked about how proud she is to see his growth as a basketball player, his love of dunking, and shared a story where JaVale touched the top of backboard in street shoes at his pre-draft workout for Cleveland. Hilarity ensues at the 1:08 mark of video when Pam interrupts her backboard story to yell this to a passerby:
“Hey dude, we’re on TV … We’re on TV dude!”
There’s no video of the funny exchange, only audio while highlights of JaVale are shown, so the identity of the interview interrupter is unknown, but Gheorghe Muresan is sitting in the background. Miller later tries to prod Pam, a former WNBA player and Olympic champion, into revealing if she would be involved in any of McGee’s dunks. She coyly indicated that she would be on-hand for the festivities, but stopped short from officially announcing her participation.
Midnight Madness had ended and the Wizards were funneling out the back of the Patriot Center. Al Thornton briefly chatted with family members on his way to the team chartered bus. JaVale McGee and Cartier Martin quietly filed by. Suddenly, a loud musical voice boomed from behind me and the lyrics were easy to make out, “Teach Me How To Dougie.” John Wall was singing the Cali District Swag hit at the top of his lungs while bobbing his head over and over to a beat in his head, since he was not wearing any head phones.
Hours earlier, as the Wizards were taking part in a drill, Wall barked to Kirk Hinrich, “Get em going out there, Kirk!” I was thoroughly impressed that a rookie in his first official NBA practice was not afraid to tell a veteran to get on their teammates. The Game Changer was no shrinking violet. (Kyle Weidie witnessed something similar in the Summer League with Wall getting after JaVale McGee)
Wall’s impromptu Dougie flow displayed his bubbly personality and youth. He is a freshly minted 20-years old, and I know that at his age, I was humming along to “Biggie, Biggie, Biggie, Can’t You See?”
These incidents provided an early glimpse into his persona. With the ball in his hands, during practice or during games, he is a team-oriented player with killer instinct. He wants to pound opponents at mach-one speed and hates to lose. HATES it. Off the court, he is a normal young man who likes to have fun by singing and dancing.
[A D.C. basketball court - Florida Ave. and R St. NW - K. Weidie]
The Wizards are a 40-win team.*
Or a 25-win team. One or the other.
The Wizards’ 2010-2011 NBA preseason is now over. (They had a 3-4 preseason record.) The team left the 8,000-seat multi-purpose Huntington Center in Toledo, Ohio in defeat, but with plenty of promise. And with promises I hope the [insert final roster number] Basketball Wizards can keep.
(Paraphrased) Promises like:
I will do work in the low block. — ‘Dray Blatche
I will gobble up defensive rebounds. — J-Mac
I will protect the basketball. — Jimmy Teach ‘Em How To Dougie
I will be the self-effacing sidekick to The Blur. — Robin Gilbert Arenas
[Editor's note: I would like to welcome Rashad Mobley to the staff of TAI. Rashad has covered the Wizards with media credentials over the past two seasons for HoopsAddict.com. He's also written several guest posts on this site. Now, I'm excited to announce that Rashad will be bringing his writing skills to TAI full-time. And for his debut as 'officially' official, he dives further into Nick Young's one game in Vegas. Enjoy. -Kyle]
[Nick Young gains separation from Trey Johnson
heading toward a screen from Corsley Edwards.]
Last Thursday when the Washington Wizards PR staff allowed bloggers and writers to watch mini-camp practice, I had some things I expected to see. I expected to see up and down play from John Wall; I expected to see JaVale McGee and Hamady N’Diaye doing friendly battle in the post; and I definitely expected to see Sam Cassell barking instructions out because, well..that’s what’s Cassell does.
But I can honestly say that I did not expect to see Nick Young on that practice court. Yet there he was, taking passes from Wall in stride and launching jumpers, playing pressure defense, and matching the intensity of players not guaranteed a roster spot like he seemingly is.