Roundball Roundup

 

"Don't make me throw this at you, Al"

The Roundup is back for Week 2. It’s semi-coherent, semi-sober and semi-awesome. This is what you people get for making me right a basketball column at 11 p.m. on a Thursday night. And save your “You didn’t spell ‘write’ correctly.” I’m not going back to change it.

Like you, I’ve turned on a TV in the last 72 hours. And like you, I’m feeling political.

So before we get into the Artests and bolts of the basketball week that was, I would first like to use this platform to propose a sweeping referendum on the crawlers, tickers, and bottom lines that are compressing our live action box and giving our children ADD. I would also like to say in defense of that last sentence that I do not actually have children, so let me substitute those last four words with “giving Shawn Kemp’s children” ADD.

It’s bad enough that the ubiquitous “The Lead” has shot dead the suspense a certain highlight show that will remain nameless (FSN Final Score! No, I’m kidding… talking about SportsCenter) once afforded the budding sports blogger with a 9 p.m. bedtime. But this, friends, is not my main complaint.

(a brief aside: If The Lead were a rock star, would he insist on “The Lead,” or would he be cool if people just called him Lead? Let’s say, for instance, that The Lead was in a band with Bono. Would Bono say, “Please hand me the guitar The Lead,” or would he be comfortable enough in his friendship with The Lead to say something along the lines of “Lead, this is the Apple executive I was telling you about. Lead, Steve. Steve, Lead”? I cannot, friends, seem to rectify this fictional scenario, and so prefer to think of The Lead as an international soccer star instead.)

What’s the point, friends, of owning a 42-inch flat screen if a full two of those inches are dedicated to “news” like this:

The following is a real-world example of what Ticker can do to you.

NBA TV, Monday, 3:15 p.m.

Crawler Reads: “MIL 6 HOU 6”

Now I don’t have to tell you that this really threw me for a loop!

My immediate reaction was, “I must have been hit by a bus, awaken from a coma and missed the start of spring training!”

When I realized that no, If I’d been hit by a bus, I’d probably be in a body cast – or at the very least, healed, but much older – my second thought was, “Wow, this is a really low scoring football game… When did the Packers move to Milwaukee? And why are they playing Monday Night Football at 3 in the afternoon during the playoffs? Did Houston even make the playoffs!?”

I even briefly entertained the idea that Ochocinco changed his name to “Milsixhousix,” and that NBA TV was trying to save space by using the abbreviation. 

However, when I saw these finer points…

“Bogut 2 pts L. Mbah a Moute 2 pts Ariza 2 pts A. Brooks 2 pts”

…it dawned on me that, “Oh, this game started 30 FREAKING SECONDS AGO.”

(And thanks, NBA TV, for the “L.” in front of “Mbah a Moute.” I would have never guessed.)

You see that we have a problem. So right here, right now, before my family, my country, and the great people of Gainesville, I would like to formally propose Congressional action banning all scrolling scores until the fourth quarter (or equivalent) of every non-post season sporting event, if only because there’s not a human left in this great nation of ours that doesn’t watch TV with a laptop or smart phone in front of him. We, people of America, love us some stats. But enough is enough.

Who’s behind me?

We’re going to ESPN! We’re going to CBS Sports! We’re going to Fox Sports! We’re going to TNT! We’re going to FSN! We’re going to NBA TV! We’re going to the NFL Network! We’re going to…

(*abruptly disappears from national stage, steps down from soapbox, becomes head of DNC, and pops up from time to time as a guest analyst on MSNBC*)

"We're going to ESPN!"

So let’s talk basketball.

Over the weekend, Celtics shooting guard Ray “Sour Grapes” Allen, referring to the potential All-Star selections of Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson, told reporters that fan voting has “watered down” the league’s midseason showcase. Allen had no comment on the game’s lack of defense, circus atmosphere, or the fact that he’s averaging 16 points per game.

In other A-S Weekend news, David Stern and Co. decided to implement a “dunk-in” during halftime of Friday’s (2/19) Rookie Challenge. Raptors rookie guard DeMar DeRozan will be getting up and throwing down with Clips two-guard Eric Gordon to determine who will take the fourth spot in Saturday’s main event (against Shannon Brown, Nate Robinson and Gerald Wallace).

I, for one, haven’t been this excited since Dr. Shapiro handed me the Sega controller and said, “Here, play ‘Sonic’ while I drill into your back molars.”

Rumors are flying around the league that jealousy issues will ultimately tear apart the Timberwolves frontcourt. While Al Jefferson struggles to regain his form after last year’s right ACL tear, Kevin “I Love Me Some” Love is busy creating a fantasy monster, upping his minutes by 6 from last year and pounding the glass like the crazy guy in a police lineup. Take a look at the numbers:

Al Jefferson: 41 G, 34 MPG, 18.2 PPG, 9.6 RPG

Kevin Love: 23 G, 31 MPG, 15.2 PPG, 12.3 RPG

Excuse Al Jefferson if he pulls a Randy Moss, I mean “hears footsteps.”

Let me bottom line (irony!) this for you: K-Love and AJ got mad beef, and GM Jim Stack is taking offers.

Because both are gifted, young big men playing the same position, any deal might just come down who would rather stay in Minnesota. Said Al Jefferson, “There are 73 black people in Minneapolis. Forty-seven play for the Vikings. Kevin’s the nephew of a freaking BEACH BOY. You do the math.”

Speaking of incompetent GMs, Grizz trade machine Chris “The Inspiration for Ralph Wiggum” Wallace looks more and more each day like’s he’s stumbled uncontrollably upon the right answer: O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and a suddenly-gives-a-crap Zach Randolph. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then, which worries me because I’m afraid Wallace is going to trade his nut to the Laker’s for a piece of yarn.

This is a guy, after all, that flipped Joe Johnson and a first-round pick for Rodney Rogers and Tony Delk, went out of his way to acquire Vin “I’m a Washed Up Alcoholic With An $86 Million Contract” Baker, and just spent the No. 2 overall pick on Hasheem Thabeet, otherwise known as The Guy That Isn’t Johnny Flynn.

Wallace: "I'm also the man behind the Iverson deal!"

Still, I’ll give credit where credit is due. As of Thursday, the Grizzlies are 22-19, 7-3 in their last 10, 15-14 against the West, and a game-and-change out of a playoff spot. They’re trotting out two of the most exciting players in the league (Mayo and Gay), a can’t miss future superstar (Mayo), two of the top 20 big men (Randolph and Gasol), and, um, Mike Conley.  

Chris, this what you call a “nucleus.” You’re sitting on a pile of Microsoft stock circa 1986.  Do the people of Memphis a favor and put the phone down.

(By the way, what were the odds in 1986 that two of the three best NBA teams in 2015 would be playing in Oklahoma City and Memphis? A million to one? A billion to one? What, you’re not ready to go there…?)

And finally, Madison Square Garden hosted its annual Italian Heritage Night on Friday when Raptors “star” Andrea Bargnani and Marco Belinelli squared off against fellow countryman Danilo Gallinari. The game, a Toronto victory, was a breath of fresh air for an ethnic group just looking for a little respect on American TV. But since this was Knicks-Raptors, you had a Situation with few Woww! moments and some truly appalling D.

 We’re running short on time. I need a buzzer beater. Fist pumps.  

– Robbie

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