Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quick Takes - Free throws? Please no!

And the crowd goes wild!

I saw a story the other day about a homeless man who stole $100 from a bank in Louisiana and got 15 years in prison for his sentence. Juxtaposed to that was a story about a CEO who stole $3 billion dollars from his company and was sentenced to 40 weeks in prison. Perhaps our judicial system needs some retooling. You know what else needs retooling? The NBA!

This lockout is destroying professional basketball in a way that the narcissistic owners and commissioner couldn't have predicted (it's hard to see anything when your head is jammed up your own arse), and I think that means the NBA needs to start from scratch. It's really easy to just try to build off of something that's already existing, even if it's bad; you don't have to work as hard to make little improvements and to feel like you're fixing it (see: Internet Explorer). But when something's really broken, and I've thought the NBA is broken for years now, I think you just have to blow it up. Strap Acme TNT to the league and push the plunger. Whatever that means from a CBA perspective, that's for other writers who have more patience for the semantics of revenue sharing to discuss. What I'm talking about is the way the game is played.

The NBA is dreadfully boring to watch now. Say what you want about the talent of the players, and they're certainly bigger/stronger/faster/more PEDed up now than ever before, but the quality of the actual gameplay has taken such a dramatic hit in the "isolation era" that I find it hard to watch anything until the playoffs roll around. At least in the playoffs, the referees put the whistles away and let the players go at it a bit more. But during the regular season (and let's be real, the playoffs still aren't great), the lack of consistent play makes the game unwatchable. There are too many timeouts, too many TV timeouts, too many breaks, too many sideline reports, too much time between quarters, too much bullshit to sit through during halftime, too many fouls, too many free throws, etc etc. There isn't too much of anything good, it's just all the worst parts of the game exacerbated to the point of skull-splitting drudgery.

Dwight Howard has hired a scientist to help him shoot free throws, saying that in order for him to become a great player in the NBA, he needs to shoot over 80% from the line. And that's what's wrong with the league, right there. One of the most talented, gifted athletes we have ever seen in the league, a seven-foot giant with incredible speed, agility, and athleticism, is going to spend the entire offseason working on free throws, because that's all the game is anymore. Grown men, standing around, watching someone shoot uncontested foul shots. Awesome.

And what about Derrick Rose? The Chicago Bulls guard is one of the most awe-inspiring players to ever put on a basketball jersey, but NBA analysts have been criticizing his game for years because he "doesn't get to the foul line enough." They've been begging for him to change his game so he'll start running into a pile of people, make contact, draw fouls, and shoot 15-20 free throws a game, a la Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, and LeBron James. That's how you become great in the modern game, you take the ball inside and you jump into contact. I've heard analysts praise Rose for "playing the game the right way," but then admitting that he can't play that way in the NBA and expect to win a championship. Sigh.

Let's get rid of timeouts. Let's put the whistles away. And let's get back to playing a real freaking sport.

  • Cardinals reliever Arthur Rhodes is guaranteed a World Series ring this year after playing for both the Rangers and the Cardinals this season. I'm not sure how the league doesn't have a rule that prevents a player who didn't, you know, win the World Series from getting a ring because he played a few regular season games with another team, but this is from the same league who determines home field advantage through a meaningless exhibition game. If I were Arthur Rhodes, I'd just hang out in the locker room, drink beer and order Popeye's chicken, and wait for my ring to arrive, but I guess he's not on the Boston Red Sox.
  • Does anyone else think it's creepy when ESPN fawns over high school kids? "Hey, kid, come check out our news van ..."
  • Rex Ryan seems to be vomiting words uncontrollably again, calling out Chargers head coach Norv Turner by claiming that, with the teams Turner had in the past, Ryan "would have had a couple rings." You'd think for a guy his size he'd know how to keep his food down.
  • On a recent broadcast of HBO's "Real Sports," the normally soft-spoken Bryant Gumbel compared NBA commissioner David Stern to a "plantation owner." Now, I can think of a lot of things to call David Stern, most of which I don't feel comfortable printing here as my mom would never talk to me and the FCC would come to my house to take my computer away, but to have the ignorance and audacity to compare Stern to a plantation owner is just pathetic and absurd. David Stern deserves all the vitriol writers and broadcasters (and players) can throw at him, but Gumbel should know better than to destroy his argument and his credibility by likening it to slavery of all things. It's basketball! Players are paid millions of dollars to play a sport. They are choosing to play the sport, as well. And they're not being ... you know what, I don't even need to finish this rant. Everybody knows how stupid that "plantation owner" comment was. Everyone knows how awful slavery was and how ridiculous it is to compare it to the NBA too. I'm done.
  • Are you ready for the 24-hour Tim Tebow news network? If not, you might as well just cancel your cable before this Sunday and move to a Buddhist monastery in Tibet.
  • Speaking of which, right now on ESPN.com, the main story is, of course, Tim Tebow, while the recap for game 1 of the World Series is buried below. Hilarious. I sure hope it's like this for the next 15 years.
  • The Philadelphia Eagles made a trade for Detroit Lions running back Jerome Harrison, only to discover during his physical that he had a brain tumor, thus nullifying the trade (obviously). What's fascinating about this story is that had the trade not been made initially, Harrison wouldn't have had a physical and who knows how long it would've taken for the first diagnosis. The tumor is now being treated, according to sources, and his prognosis for life and football are both positive (best trade ever?), but I'm starting to think regular physicals should be more common in the NFL. If I had to turn and cough every year in high school for my sports physical, why aren't pro athletes doing the same?

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