In an effort to bolster their team image, the Portland Trailblazers are now offering electronic greeting cards. I stumbled across these things while researching crappy player Ha Seung Jin, and let me just tell you that my funny bone was in no way ready for this:

That's...great. I'm, uh, thinking of you too.

I don't know why they did it. Were they trying to make children cry, or did they just want to make it very clear that Ha's sitting around thinking about complete strangers? A mildly obsessive and borderline psychotic tag line, a close-up of a half-dead mutant basketball player staring listlessly out into our very's like East German surrealistic filmmaking crossed with the production values of a local used car commercial.

While cards like the one above serve only to frighten and disturb us, others try help us celebrate the holidays. And nothing can say "Happy Valentine's Day" any better than a pissed-off looking Zach Randolph surrounded by hearts and holding out a pot of flowers.

Zach is not feeling the love.

Still others, like this one staring Bo Outlaw, are just insane. I can only assume that the photographer either 1) paid Bo a lot of money, 2) got him very drunk, or 3) used some kind of Tiki Curse.

Career move...or Tiki Curse?

I searched through most of the other team sites at and, fortunately, it appears that this greeting card gimmick isn't catching on. Although I did find one more horrific card with Scot Pollard from his Sacramento days:

pollard b-day
Holy sweet merciful Jesus.
Kobe Bryant recently had this to say after shooting 8 for 33 in a 90-84 loss to the Spurs:
"This particular ball club right now, I have to be assertive, and if the ball doesn't go in, it gives us a good rebounding opportunity, which we were able to get tonight. Guys went to the glass even on my misses and we got some good looks off of my misses."
So...his 25 missed shots were actually rebounding opportunities for his teammates? Right. And every time I throw a half-eaten sandwich in the trash, that's really just an eating opportunity for some homeless guy. Based on this Bizarro World logic, I propose that the NBA should adopt a new stat category: The Kobe Bryant Assist. Players would recieve one KBA for each missed shot that results in an offensive rebound for a teammate. Man, guys like Allen Iverson and Antione Walker are gonna love this idea.

Kobe ball
Lookin' for the rock? Yep...Kobe's got it.

Statastic Extra: John Hollinger, a self-styled master of APBRmetrics (the analysis of basketball through objective evidence), has devised a special statistical reference called Usage Rate, which specifically measures how much a player hogs the ball. Based on Hollinger's projections, not only is Kobe currently the NBA's prime rock monger, he's on pace to become the most selfish player of all time.
You know how sometimes you get upset that the people policing your neighborhood are a bunch of fat donut critics who spend most of their time trying to trick you into speeding tickets? Well, it could be worse; you could be a celebrity.

Cops are constantly harrassing our nation's rich and famous. From discovering marijuana in their backpacks ("It was left there by a friend!"), to finding marijuana pipes in their cars ("It belongs to my brother -- no, wait -- my friend!!"), to making them lie under oath at federal hearings ("I didn't know those creams, jels, and hypodermic needles my friend and trainer gave me were filled with steriods!!!"), to running over a meter maid with a car full of marijuana ("She got in my way, and that stuff belongs to a friend!!!!"), celebrities just can't catch a break. Although, history has shown, they can certainly buy one.

The latest heroic victims are Tony Parker and his desperate housewife girlfriend Eva Longoria, who were busted for impeding traffic a few days ago.

Big Boss Man
Get ready for some hard time, Tony.

Despite the fact that they were causing a traffic pileup in front of a busy nightclub, and that Parker reacted to being told to move by almost running some dude down, then failed to provide a driver's license (he provided a French license, but everything French is worthless so that doesn't count), the couple feel that the cop acted in an "inappropriate and disorderly manner." The cop, on the other hand, claims that Parker was verbally abusive, and that Longoria called him a "Mexican bike cop" who justed wanted Parker's autograph. Eva vehemently denied this, since she's Mexican too, and god knows that no one has ever uttered a racist slur against someone of the same ethnicity.

Breaking News: Eva just filed charges against the cop. I'm sure we'll see justice done now. Just like in the O.J. Simpson trial.

Quotastic Extra: Basketbawful correspondant Dave "Badass" Larson had this to say about Parker's heroic battle with San Antonio's finest:

"Tony has the privilege to give cops shit. He's dating Eva Longoria, whom I would BREAK. Damn French pansy -- go get a hairy Eurotrash girl and quit stealing the hot immigrants that I, as a middle class white guy, crave."
Well said, Dave.

Dave and Eva
Dave: "This is how things should be. Let's go back to my place, Eva..."
It really, really pains me to admit this, but it looks as though I was wrong yesterday when I blamed Kobe Bryant for starting the tights craze. According to an article over at the ESPN Web site, Jerry Stackhouse wore man-hose all throughout last year's playoffs. And here's the proverbial smoking gun:

Stackhouse tights
Hopefully Stackhouse will burn in hell for starting this trend.

So, Kobe, wherever you are (probably icing your shoulder from hoisting up all those shots last night), I apologize. But I still think you're a dick.
God, sometimes it just feels so good to hate Kobe Bryant. When I woke up this morning and saw this picture, I thought Christmas had come again...

Kobe bloody
Awh...did little Kobe get a boo boo?

Apparently, Mike Miller unintentionally whacked Kobe in the head during the Grizzlies' 100-99 overtime victory over the Lakers. Of course, Kobe got all tough guy and later drew a flagrant foul for elbowing Miller in the throat as Mike drove to the hoop. Said Kobe: "Any player that was going to come down the lane at that point in time, I was going to let him know that he just can't walk through there." Yeah, it's funny...I don't remember Kobe committing a flagrant foul on Shaq a few days ago when he was walking into the lane and dunking all over Chris Mihm. Probably because he knows he'd have ended up in a bucket somewhere labeled "What's Left of Kobe Bryant."

Anyway, Kobe continues to jack up the ball at an unprecedented rate. He's like that drunk guy at the bar who thinks a girl will go home with him if he just keeps buying her drink after drink. He was 13-37 last night, with 19 [!!] free throw attempts, meaning he shot the ball almost 50 times. Imagine if he hadn't had to leave the game to get stitched up. He might've taken 60.

Funtastic Extra: I just had to include this incredibly gay picture of Kobe wearing tights and leaping through the air. Does this picture make any sense to anybody?! Even the ref has a "WTF?!!" look on his face.

Kobe flying
"I soar on the wings of my dreams."

Manny Yarbrough (Not Sherman Klump)

Credentials: North American Sumo Champion, world's fattest living pro athlete according to Guinness Book of World Records (insert Oliver Miller joke here).

Morbid Curiosity: watching Shaq use speed and finesse to score from the perimeter on this guy could be a bigger exercise in futility than the dog licking peanut butter off its nose.

Downside: Manny could quite possibly be the second most confused black man in the country .


Upside: Has the courtesy to wear tights underneath his Sumo diaper. Kobe-style.

Why Shaq Would Kick His Ass: Lost to Hulk Hogan in under a minute at Wrestlemania 9; proof that Yokozuna has huge problems with inarticulate, slow moving egomaniacs. Was subsequently tagged as a marshmallowy wuss, something Shaq has no shortage of experience with. Oh, and he's dead.

E. Honda from Street Fighter 2

Shaq Who?: E. Honda's typical opponent can either fly, teleport or shoot a fireball at his head . Shaq may be a master of Shaq Fu, but Mehmet Okur's quickness gives him fits. After fending off a hurricane kick from a hot ass-kicking Chinese chick with ridiculous hips , E. Honda observes Shaq's glacier-like drop step and sighs in boredom.

They're Not So Different: Kazaam and Street Fighter are among the 100 worst movies of all time. Officially!


Sweet Redemption for Kobe: Probably the most horrifying match finisher since Jake "The Snake" Roberts's python, Rikishi rubs his bare, sweaty ass in the face of his defeated opponent.

Another Reason Why We Wouldn't Enjoy This: There's a good chance Rikishi would challenge Shaq to a dance-off beforehand , complete with "The Worm" and "The Electric Slide".

Fat Bastard

Highly unlikely. We all know Shawn Kemp has been out of the league since 2003.

It's pretty hard to make a fashion statement when all you're allowed to wear are shoes, shorts, a tanktop, and cornrows...and that's exactly how David Stern likes it. But despite the commissioner's best efforts to fill the league with hundreds of bland and featureless body doubles, every few years a new fashion craze hits the NBA.

Some of the previous trends have been desperately needed innovations, like when Michael Jordan brought baggy shorts into vogue, saving us all from a decade of a Shaquille O'Neal crotch shots. Others were silly and, thankfully, short-lived, like back in the 80s when Magic Johnson and the Lakers starting wearing bike shorts under their normal short-shorts. Others have been terrifying beyond the capacity for rational thought, like when Rik Smits, Chris Mullin, and the rest of the Pacers shaved their heads en masse for the 1998 NBA Playoffs. The current trend definitely falls into that last "mind-numbing horror" category: full leg tights.

"We're men, manly men, we're men in tights, tights, tights..."

Not surprisingly, it appears that our favorite Basketbawful villain Kobe Bryant is responsible for starting this new style. I was hoping his little habit would be laughed off and quickly dismissed, you know, like his rape charges. But I was very, very wrong. Everybody is starting to wear these godless monstrosities, from all-stars like Michael Redd (who's actually alternating between white tights at home and black on the road) to unknown bench jockeys like Rashad McCants (whom you didn't recognize above). The final straw for me was when I saw resident lardass and heart-patient Eddie Curry wearing them. Eddie Curry!! If the commish doesn't draft some kind of anti-tights legislation, and soon, I'm putting out a hit.

Curry tights
Last. Fucking. Straw.
Steve Nash, the reigning NBA MP3, was recently named the Canadian Male Athlete of the Year.

Nash MVP
Male Athlete of the Year. Yummy.

Look...I like Steve. I really do. But if J.R.R. Tolkien came back from the dead to write a sequel to The Lord of the Rings about a gay elf on a quest to bring laughter and joy to the world, he'd use Nash as a character model. I mean, come on. His fucking action figure is more manly than he is.

Nash action figure
More manly than the real thing? Yes.
In what might be the lamest rebuke in basketball history, Lamar Odom called Gary Payton a "disrespectful young man" in response to the washed-up guard's endless stream of trash talk during the Heat's 97-92 defeat of the Lakers.

Odom upset
The victim of Payton's ill-mannered bon mots

When asked about the technical foul finally called against Payton, Lamar continued, "I was the victim of some of Mr. Payton's more tasteless parodic jests. Despite repeated appeals to his better judgment and several stern appraisals of disapproval, Mr. Payton, a foppish dandy of eccentric reputation, disregarded the league-appointed constabulary and continued his ill-mannered conduct, which was most irregular and boorish.

"The referees, who were extremely offended by the snubbing, assessed to him a technical foul for acting in poor taste, looking down his nose, and playing the inappropriate role of a prima donna."

You tell 'em, Lamar.
When the Miami Heat torpedoed Stan Van Gundy for Pat Riley, they weren't just getting a guy who had already coached the Heat to four consecutive first round playoff losses (as the higher seed) followed by back-to-back sub-500 seasons (36-56 and 25-57 respectively). They were getting a guy who wants to incorporate sumo wrestlers into team practices.

Sumo wrestlers + Basketball = Genius!

Mabye Riley's just kidding around, or maybe this is his subtle way of criticizing the refs for allowing opposing players to "manhandle" the monstrous behemoth that is Shaq. Who knows. I don't know if they Heat are any better under Riley, but they're more entertaining. I guess.
Ron Artest is learning not to play dice with the Basketball Gods. Larry Bird never took any shit as a player, and he sure isn't going to take any as a general manager. Bird finally spoke about Ron's very public trade demand and the subsequent about-face. Bird says he feels "betrayed" by Artest, and that he thinks Artest will do fine...somewhere else. My money's still on Toronto.

I hereby banish thee. To Toronto.
Sometimes it's hard to make fun of people who work so hard to do it to themselves. Every time Ron Artest opens his mouth, it puts us in the awkward position where we can't tell if we're supposed to laugh or treat him for Tourette's. First he trashes his coach and demands a trade, then he claims he loves the team and wants to stay, and now he...rips on Magic Johnson for committing adultery?!

Worse than destroying your team and then demanding a trade.

Apparently, Magic had the gall to agree with the Pacers and the rest of the free world that Artest needs and deserves a swift boot out of town. Ron wasted very little time or thought in responding: "He's saying Ron Artest should have no more second chances. What's worse — me saying I want to be traded or you cheating on your wife?"

Jesus breakdancing Christ, Ron! Apples and oranges, dude. And hasn't anybody ever told you not to pick on fat people with a terminal illness? Besides, this would hardly count as your "second chance." I'm not a mathematist or numberographer, but by my count you've had, like, two hundred million chances. Get over it, and start looking for apartments in Toronto.
Since 1984, David Stern has turned the NBA into a money making juggernaut that has turned athletes into merchandising icons. He's often regarded as one of the best pro sports executives around, and in 20 years on the job, the truth is out. He just doesn't get it. Sure the NBA soared in the '80s, gaining 500% in revenue from the before-Stern era. Of course, Michael Jordan just happened to start his career in '84, and Larry Legend, the Kissing Bandits, and others were hitting their stride. To be fair, Stern is one hell of a negotiator. Just last year he negotiated television contracts with a 24% increase, despite NBC reporting a $300-million dollar loss over the last 4-year contract. He knows his way through an executive boardroom.

Despite his financial and marketing successes, nature had better make sure he doesn't have kids. They might was well reserve a room in the nearest juvenile detention center for them, because he can't even make employees behave. According to Jeff Benedict, 177 players from the 2001-02 season had criminal records. That is one out of every three players. Imagine walking down the street and knowing that one out of every three people is possibly going to something to you. Most people call an environment like that "jail."

Stern speaks
In Stern's NBA, crime has become FUN-damental.

Even if skeptics doubt that statistic, even if it were halved the number would be one in six NBA players that have a criminal record. That doesn't include traffic stops and lost and found. It's a good thing that Sir Charles isn't a role model, because the NBA is out of control. The ironic part of Barkeley's comment is that he can thank Stern for putting him in that position. By dint of superior marketing, NBA ballers are role models. It's just something that comes with being successful, and, like or not, there is a level of success by being in the NBA. Don't be blinded by the likes of Greg Ostertag. So why is this Stern's fault?

The funny thing about top executives is that they are held responsible for the behavior of their company. Interestingly enough, executives can also set policy for the expectations of conduct from their employees, and make no mistake, pro players are employees. Stern has had his chance to set expectations and limits for his players. Sprewell choking Coach Carlesimo, Kobe's method of tipping room service, Artest battling his private demons (for your information, all demons come from Detroit), and Jayson Williams' shotgun "tour" are all easy examples of inexcusable behaviors on and off the court. For the keywords of "NBA" and "crime," Yahoo! supplied 4.99 million hits. And it's not a far stretch to see how these crimes are the worst growth of a more common problem with ego. As the isolation has become the mainstay, and dunks have become more common than passes, the post-game interview is becoming a 3-minute self-promotion period for players.

Why aren't these players held to an ethical standard? This isn't just about the inherent value of obeying the law anymore. Americans are getting tired of hearing about various NBA players getting busted for a variety of crimes. When the NBA enjoyed the success of the '80s and '90s, players had two characteristics. The first is that they were shown as remarkable individuals, who had beat the odds to excel and have this chance. The second is that viewers and fans could relate to the players. Ranging from the working class guy to the executive in the office, most Americans could have pictured themselves in one of those jerseys. Whom do Americans want to be now? Iverson? Kobe? Not in most cases. Of course, the claim that individuals like Iverson provide an example for disadvantaged urban youth, especially black youth. Overlooking the fact that most African American players in the league come from non-urban, poor childhoods, is it really doing those kids a service by having players with criminal records be their role model? And from a colder, economic view, is the urban market really the cash cow that the NBA is looking for?

The bottom line Stern has to address is whether allowing bad behavior and criminal behaviors go unaddressed is advantageous to the NBA? It seems unlikely that the public is going to keep watching criminals and thugs. It frustrating to know that Stern recently had his chance. When the Pacers and the Pistons had their little brawl last year, Stern would have had the political capital to force new policies on the players union. And yes, big name players would likely have been a casualty of the erupting battle. But once the smoke cleared, it'd be a league worth watching again. As Stern continues to plod on with his hands-off policy, the NBA is becoming truly basketbawful.
The Basketbawful History Committee would like to officially recognize Dominique Wilkins, the first NBA player to miss 1,000 shots in a season (1,038 to be exact, in1984-85).

Wilkins shoots
You think he's going to shoot it?

Dominque reached this dubious milestone again - twice!! - in 1985-86 (1,011 misses) and 1987-88 (1,048 misses), paving the way for a entire generation of selfish shotmongers and bricklayers, such as Jerry Stackhouse, Allen Iverson, Antoine Walker, and, of course, our favorite ballhog Kobe Bryant. Thanks 'Nique!
I mourned for a minute or two when Dan Dickau tore his Achilles tendon over the weekend .

Part of me wanted Dan to take the role of John Stockton's spiritual successor, and it made so much sense: an unheralded white guy from some school that's damn-near in Montana emerges from the shadows to dissect the league with almost machine-like precision. Bonus points for being a journeyman and playing for the Celtics...

My hopes sunk a bit when he followed up a promising run with the Hornets with a backup role, now a year on the shelf will squash what little momentum he had left.

I'm sure John Stockton is looking on worriedly as he tightens the electric semi-conductors in his neck...
Realizing he could end up in an empty area running screen-and-rolls with guys like Melvin Ely or Rafael Araujo for the next three years, Ron Artest has officially declared backsies on his knee-jerk trade request.

Artest joke
I was just kidding...please don't
send me to Toronto.

If you caused your girlfriend to get arrested, fired from her job, and then tell everyone you'd rather jump all over her she-bitch of a sister over in Manhattan...metaphorically speaking, of course...although Jerm does sound a little more like a whiny little school girl in every interview he does.
"Emmy-winning sportscaster" and ABC sideline reporter Suzy Shuster recently made post-game interview history when she asked Nebraska Cornhuskers football coach Bill Callahan, who had just been doused with Gatorade, the following question:

"Was that one of the more gratifying dumps you've had?"

Thank you, Suzy. Even though you were reporting a college football game, you still have a spot waiting for you in the Basketbawful Hall of Shame.

Mmmmm. Gratifying.

Craptastic Extra: Watch footage of Suzy's verbal diarrhea here.
The Pacers, fans and personnel alike, have displayed patience of biblical proportions when it comes to Ron Artest. Somewhat understandable, since he's a prototypical package of intensity, athleticism, defensive awareness, scoring...unfortunately wrapped around the mind of a 12-year-old.

Crazy Ron
Wait a minute. We trusted this guy?!

Back when Artest was a league leader in T's and flagrants (and Isiah feeding him hot sauce and gun powder), and was practicing anger management by smashing TVs and wall hangings in the locker room, we wrote it off saying was "a little wound up sometimes. As long as we're winning." Even so far as to blame his tantrums on a potential bi-polar disorder and a rough childhood.

When Ron was so desperate to land a shoe deal, in the All Star game he changed to a different pair of mis-matched shoe brands at the end of every quarter, "eccentric and enthusiastic" we called it. And we applauded when he signed with LA Gear, bringing their endorsement roster to a total of one. If you don't count royalties from that "Teen Steam" video with Alyssa Milano.

Rugged Ronnie then earned himself a nice suspension when wanting to take time away from the team to promote his rap album. The man is telling us he has little interest in playing ball, but the Pacers community collectively shook their heads..."a wide-eyed youngster" they called him. Then we bought his album.

When a Dixie cup to the face caused Ron to spark a pier-six brawl that would make Vince McMahon jealous..."Those Detroit fans are a bunch of savages". Then we all pulled for Ron when his year-long suspension was being appealed.

Even though the donnybrook that set the Pacers franchise back 5 years (and even led to a uniform change!) was connected to the most volatile, unpredictable man in the league, Donnie Walsh and the boys doggedly backed Teflon Ron, refusing to even entertain the idea that the franchise would be better off without the Ultimate Fruitcake.

Now, almost one year after the brawl to the day, Artest rewards Indiana for it's years of undeserved loyalty with a steaming pile of "fuck you". Apparently Ron has insight that Rick Carlisle, Larry Bird and company never had over the years, apparently doing the Pacers a favor (he's not entirely wrong) and saying his trade demand "it's better for the team"...and, by the way, trade me to New York, the rap game is large out there.

Unless the Pacers are eager to get some combination of Eddy Curry/Jerome James/Jamal Crawford/Quentin Richardson, it ain't happenin. Money says Larry Bird is orchestrating a move that will land Ron in some sort of basketball purgatory, maybe Toronto. He's spiteful like that. On the upside, Ron could become the big Maple Leaf's biggest rap star since Snow.

Bird Canada
We hope you enjoy Canada, Ron. Actually, no we don't.
Germany has a strange history of turning out crazies with hyper-agressive tendencies: Adolph Hitler, the Red Skull, and Von Kaiser just to name a few. Well, you can now add Dirk Nowitzki to your list of "violent German sociopaths."

Dirk Killer
Is this the face of a killer? Yes.

During the Dallas Mavericks' 102-94 win over the Chicago Bulls, Mr. Diggler used his ice-pick of an elbow to unleash a blitzkrieg on the heads of not one, but two Bulls players. Luol Deng lost a tooth, and Kirk Hinrich received a couple early Christmas gifts labeled "bruised jaw" and "concussion." So Nowitzki cold-cocked two guys in a game his team won. Thanks, dick. I mean, Dirk.

Hinrich Dead
I guess Dirk is still mad we won the war.

The best part of all this? No fouls were called on either play. When a reporter told Dirk later that he'd killed two men that night, the Sour Kraut said, "You hate to see players go down, but injuries are part of the game." Do you think Dirk would be so flippant if he'd gotten a busted tooth, a bruised jaw, and a concussion all in the same game? I don't know either, but hopefully we'll find out at some point this season.
Andrei Kirilenko is fast becoming the most unreliable thing to come out of the Soviet Union since the Yugo.
1. That Crazy Frog commercial that comes on late night cable.

Crazy Frog
...God, make it stop...

2. Anything involving Carrot Top.

Carrot Top

3. Kobe's new "layered" look, complete with tights and two (TWO!!) pairs of shorts!

In an unrelated story, Kobe is on pace to shoot a career low 41% and, a mere 4 weeks into the season, even Phil Jackson thinks Kobe's game has become sickeningly predictable. So I can't complain too much.

It's nice to see that Brad Lohaus is still convincing people to give him a salary with little in return...and on top of that, at age 40, he's finally learning to play physical.
The 1985-86 Celtics won 67 games and captured the NBA Championship with one of the strongest teams in league history. But despite a 59-win campaign and another trip to the finals, the 1986-87 Celtics failed to repeat. Analysts at the time disagreed as to why this happened. Some people blamed Kevin McHale's broken foot, while others thought it was the voodoo curse that Mychal Thompson put on the team. But looking back, the reason is painfully, almost tragically clear: the team had the worst bench of all time.

Celtics table
Table THX-1138: The 1986-87 Boston Celtics
Team Totals and Starters vs Bench statistics

Those numbers are real, my friends. The Celtics got a pathetic 12 PPG, 6 RPG, and 4 APG total from their bench that season. Ideally, you should get that kind of production from your sixth man alone. Divide those numbers up among your three to four-man bench rotation, and, well, they suck. Even worse, the starters averaged between 37 and 42 minutes of game, which means they were usually exhausted by the end of the game (as evidenced by the fact that they kicked away 4th quarter leads in 6 of their 10 playoff losses).

The Big Three
Dudes, our bench sucks. I mean, it really sucks.

To put this into better perspective for you, when McHale won the Sixth Man Award for the 1984-85 season, he averaged 19.8 PPG and 9.0 RPG. So, statistically speaking, he far outperformed the '87 by himself. Ouch.
I know, I know. This isn't really basketball-related. But since I haven't started the Footbawful blog yet, it goes here. Now shut up and enjoy your free comedy.

A few weeks ago, crazed football fan Christopher Noteboom ran onto the field during the Philadelphia Eagles' game against the Green Bay Packers to dump his dead mom's ashes. I know what you're thinking, and the answer is: No, Chris is has no relation to this man:

Paul Bearer
As far as we know, Paul Bearer
was not involved in this incident.

As bad as it sounds, it gets worse. This wasn't even the dead woman's final wish. Said Noteboom: "I don't know if that's what she would have wanted, but I know right now that she is absolutely smiling down at me from ear to ear.

Uh, sorry Chris, but that's not quite right. She's actually grimacing up at you from the bottom of some stinky football cleat. And although I didn't know her as well as you did, I'm guessing she isn't real thrilled about it.

Uhm, mom, is that you?
That very fact that you're reading this blog should tell you that I enjoy writing about basketball. But I draw the line at writing poems about basketball. That's so fruity, it's like the sports equivalent of dressing Hulk Hogan in a pink tutu and hanging him upside down from the ceiling. Speaking of which:

Mr Nanny
Never thought you'd see this, did you?

Despite the inherent gayness of it, many otherwise heterosexual men have written basketball poetry. Lots of it. In fact, there's an entire Web site devoted to poems about basketball. So go and soak your mind in the Epsom salt of inspiration provided by such soul-stirring tributes as "Buzzer Beater Blues" and "Basketball's the American Game Because It Is Awesome". And if you aren't moved to tears by the following words (copied verbatim from the poem "Rebounder")...

For this is the job of David, Shag, Hakeem, and the Worm
and many, many others who are willing to squirm
who are willing to push, to jump and to fight
who are willing to take the bet, though they may not right
...then hello Dolph Lundgren, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Editor's Note: Yes, you read that correctly. The amazing bard responsible for "Rebounder" either mispelled Shaq or is subtlely suggesting that the named players want to "shag." I'll let you decide for yourself.
The NBA Playoffs are where legends are born. For most teams, the birth of their legend is like the result of a long and blissful courtship. But for the Indiana Pacers, it's more like get getting knocked up by a drunken frat boy, putting your legend up for adoption, and sadly watching from afar while some rich family raises it to become the genius who cures cancer. Then you die of Herpes.

That's why I always tell people that being a Pacers fan is sort of like having a terminal illness: you know that you're doomed, but you still hold on to a glimmer of hope...only to have that hope ripped out of your chest and eaten alive by the savage Basketball Gods.

Bird and Person
Many Pacer playoff games are very unlegendary.

Newton's Third Law states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Translated into basketball terms, this means that for every incredible Reggie Miller playoff feat - the 39-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer against the Nets, a 3-pointer at the buzzer in Michael Jordan's ugly face, 25 points in the fourth quarter against the Knicks , 8 points in 8.9 seconds against the Knicks, coming back from the dead to raise the Titanic against the Knicks, traveling through time to defeat Nazi UFOs against the Knicks - there has been an equally soul-crushing and disasterous de-feat. Here are my top five:

Number 5: Game 7 of the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals

What Happened: On the road and under the gun, the Pacers were leading the Bulls 77-74 with five minutes left when the 6'5" Michael Jordan won a jump ball against the 7'4" human telephone pole Rik Smits. This traveshamockery lead to a game-tying 3-point shot by Steve Kerr and, eventually, an 88-83 Bulls win that made me wish Michael Jordan had died of some crippling childhood disease.

Miller vs Jordan
Why couldn't Michael have died young?

Number 4: Game 7 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals

What Happened: Leading the best-of-seven series against the Knicks 3-2, the Pacers flushed the series away when they lost game 6 at home (their only home playoff loss that year). Still, they were leading 90-89 in the final minute of game 7 when perennial playoff loser Patrick Ewing rebounded a John Starks miss and put it back in for a 91-90 Knicks lead. Things went from bad to tragic after that when Reggie missed a 3-pointer and then got called for a flagrant foul against Starks. The final score: Knicks win 94-90.

Patrick Ewing
Ewing didn't win a title, but he did beat the Pacers.

Number 3: Game 4 of the 2000 NBA Finals

What Happened: Even though they trailed the series 2-1 to the Lakers, the Pacers still had a very real chance to capture their first NBA long as they won all their home games. But in game 4, the team pulled a collective choke job (except, of course, for Reggie, who made six of his eight shots in the 4th quarter, including four of his five 3-pointers, and all three of his free throws): they lost 120-118 in overtime despite the fact that Shaq had fouled out. Kobe Bryant, whose hair at that time looked like the end of a dirty Q-Tip, pretty much took over the game in overtime, establishing his legend and earning my undying hatred.

Kobe beats pacers
Note to the dirty Q-Tip: I hate you.

Number 2: Game 2 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals

What Happened: With 61 wins, the Pacers had the best record in the league and there was every reason to believe they would make it back to the NBA Finals. Leading the series 1-0 against the Pistons, the Pacers were down only 2 with less than a minute to go when Tayshaun Prince made an amazing block of what would have been a game-tying breakaway layup by Reggie. Instead of Miller dunking the Pacers to victory, the Pistons won the game 72-67, won the series 4-2, and then went on to sweep the Lakers in the Finals, adding bitter insult to brutal injury.

Prince blocks Reggie
Why didn't you dunk the goddamned ball, Reggie?!

Number 1: Game 3 of the 1999 Eastern Conference Finals

What Happened: This was the game that finally convinced me: God hates the Pacers. Maybe Reggie sacrificed a newborn baby after every game-winning shot, or maybe the team was cursed by gypsies for trading away Chuck Person and Detlef Schrempf. I don't know. But nothing short of Satan's dark power can explain what happened that day. Michael Jordan had retired (again). The Bulls were gone. This was to be Year 1 of the Pacers Dynasty. They were even leading the game 91-88 with five seconds left. But Larry Johnson, best known for dressing up as his own elderly grandmother, got fouled by Antonio Davis, dribbled once, took three steps, and then hit a 3-pointer. Unbelievably, referee Dick Bavetta (known around the league as "Knick Bavetta") ruled it a continuation. Johnson hit the free throw to complete a 4-point play, and the Knicks won 92-91. Instead of eventually going up 3-1 (they won game 4), the Pacers never recovered and lost the series 4-2.

LJ 4-pointer
God doesn't love Larry Johnson. He hates the Pacers.

Honorable Mention: Game 3 of the 1992 First Round Series. In 1991, the Pacers pushed the Celtics to the limit, and only a truly legendary performance by Larry Bird preserved a 124-121 victory in game 5. The 1991-92 season was supposed to be the Pacers breakout season, and they got a first-round rematch with the Celtics, who had lost Bird to injury. Everyone outside of Boston thought the Pacers would prevail. Even when they lost two close games in Boston, most analysts felt it was the Pacers who should have been up 2-0. They came out so fired up in game 3 that they trailed by as many as 18 and finally lost 102-98 as the Celtics swept. This was the infamous series in which George McCloud sprained his ankle while talking on the phone, and Michael Williams let John Bagley average almost 30 points and 10 assists a game. Before the game, Hubie Brown said, "The Pacers are better than the Celtics in every phase of the game. They should be up 2-0." After the game, Hubie said, "The Pacers are regressing. They have deficiencies at every position. They're going to need a major overhaul in the offseason."

Pro B-ball Drills Reason number 8402 I love eBay: for only $39.95 you can buy a basketball skills video starring Brian Scalabrine! Now you too can learn the dark secrets of how to play basketball from a man with career averages of 3.9 PPG (on 39 percent shooting), 2.9 RPG, and 1.0 APG. Yes! And just in time for the Christmas season!

Pay close attention to the video's highlights: "Improve your ball handling" and "Learn the secrets behind the step-back shot." I'm not tryin to be overly negative here, but let's just say I have my doubts. As far as I can remember, the only things Brian is good at are injuries, bad hair, and an utter lack of anything remotely resembling a pro game.
To me, the best part about this isn't that the "suggested retail price" is almost $70, or even that Sterling Athletics chose one of the worst pro players this side of Greg Dreiling to teach us how to play basketball, it's that they chose Brian's worst statistical season (1.9 PPG, 1.1 RPG) to make this video. Not that those numbers represent much of a drop off. It's like comparing vomit to poop: neither option is very attractive.

Funtastic Extra: The auction provides a brief career bio on Scalabrine (like it could be anything other than "brief"), and the main highlight mentioned is: In 2005, Scalabrine signed a five year contract with the Boston Celtics. It's pretty sad when the best thing they can say about you as a professional athlete is that you snookered some poor team into signing you for five years.

Should this man really be teaching basketball?
Joel Przybilla has become one of my favorite players, and for some pretty dumb reasons.

First of all, It's hard not to like a gleepy 7-foot tall kid that's nicknamed after an obscure Hanna-Barbara cartoon character. Joel was not alone, but just for the record: Popeye Jones was more frightening than gleepy, he wasn't 7 feet tall, and that Popeye and Son cartoon sucked ass. Therefore, I look at him with pity rather than admiration.

Secondly: you, the reader; I feel as if I have cheated you by not posting a video here. It involves a local commercial with the Pryz working at a bakery, sniffing loaves of white bread with feigned enthusiasm that rivals the child that got tube socks for Christmas. Nuff said.

The old Joel, in the fantasy hoops world, was a busted lottery pick at the end of the bench that you would only start if all your other centers mysteriously died. Even then, it was questionable; dead centers have few turnovers, and don't hurt your FT percentage.

Then, when Zach Randolph was out for the year, the Pryz stepped in and piled in boards and blocks at a rate that would give him rights to finger-wag. My other center, Ben Wallace, immediately became expendable, I packaged him and Steve Francis and landed a guy named Lebron, which led to my first fantasy championship in 15 f'n years (yes, I was even shut out regularly back in the calculator, USA Today and DOS program days). There was much rejoicing.

This year, I got a serious case of "lets get the band back together" and drafted Joel a little early, knowing full well that having Zach Randolph back will hurt his numbers. But, as luck would have it, JP left a 17-15-6 on my doorstep earlier this week. That's my dawg.

Joel P
Joel Przybilla: My dawg.