Did I just say "Abe Lincoln"? No, I used a quote from the vastly underrated Robin Hood: Men in Tights. But speaking of Honest Abe, he's now a neck ornament for DeShawn Stevenson (as Basketbawful reader Scott correctly pointed out).

hey blinkin
Is it just me, or is this weird even by DeShawn's standards?

DeShawn's other new tats include a backwards Pittsburgh Pirates "P" and a Frankenstein crack on his forehead. And as always, I'm not kidding. According to Mike Jones of the Washington Times:

On his left cheek bone is inked the Pittsburgh Pirate's "P", "for the Pittsburgh, that's my favorite team. Barry Bonds, when he first started." The thing about the P is, however, that it's backwards and looks more like a 9. DeShawn tried to explain, "No, if you're standing where Dom’s standing and looking at me, it looks like a P." Dominic McGuire was standing directly in front of him about 10 yards away, but it still looked like a 9. I think DeShawn meant to say, "when I look in the mirror it looks like a P." The final new tat is a crack on the left side of Stevenson's forehead. He said it's because "I don’t crack. I feel like people always try to break me, but I don't crack. So, I put that there."
Many thanks to DeShawn for reminding me (once again) why I started this blog. More pics at Truth About It.

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Monta and Jacko
They're already arguing...over who gets to leave the team first.

Hey, everybody. I still look and feel like somebody whacked me in the left eye with a life-sized Kobe Bryant bobblehead doll...but I am getting better. So, in between working on the Livin' Large epilogue, I decided to get my feet wet by reporting a little recent 'bawful. At first I didn't know what to write about, but then I waited five minutes and the material pretty much wrote itself.

Stephen Jackson: With the untimely (but not all that surprising) death of Michael Jackson, Golden State's very own Stephen Jackson has become the world's reigning "Wacko Jacko." And here's his latest misadventure: Jackson recently demanded a trade to "Cleveland, New York or one of the Texas teams." Naturally, this demand was made not to Warriors management or coaches, but at South Street Seaport in New York during a block party put on by their sneaker company Protege. Mind you, Jackson signed a three-year extension worth $28 million last November.

The NBA fined Captain Jack $25,000 for "public statements detrimental to the NBA." (Imagine what David Stern would have fined him if he'd blasted management and teammates en route to his trade demand and all that had been caught on camera phone by a couple schlubs in a parking lot. I bet the league would have really cracked down...on that...oh nevermind.) The Warriors, on the other hand, tried to sweep the situation under the rug.

Then came media day and the chance for a fresh start...that ended up being as fresh as flatulence on an elevator. Said Jackson: "What I said is how I feel. Point blank. And that's not going to change." But wait, there's more: "I'm made for the playoffs and championships. That's what I play for. I'm Big Shot Jack." Forget the fact that somebody needs to hit "reset" on his reality button...wasn't New York one of his trade destinations? Didn't the Knicks finish 32-50 last season? And when was the last time they even made the playoffs anyway? As always, I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Monta Ellis: Don't make the mistake of assuming that Jackson was the Warriors' biggest distraction at media day. He most certainly was not. That honor went to Monta Ellis, the team's franchise player. Ellis -- the same dude who torpedoed Golden State's 2008-09 season when he tore a ligament in his left ankle and sustained a high-ankle sprain in a "low-speed" mo-ped accident shortly after inking a six-year, $66 million contract extension -- went on record saying that he didn't think he could play alongside newly drafted point guard Stephen Curry. Here's how that conversation went:

Question: "Do you envision yourself playing together in the backcourt?"

Ellis: "I can't. I can't answer that. Us together? No."

Q: "Why not?

Ellis: "Huh?"

Q: "Why not?"

Ellis: "Can't."

Q: Why?

Ellis: "Just can't."

Q: "Too small? Too similar?"

Ellis: "Just can't."

Q: (Do) you understand they say you can?

Ellis: "They say we can, but we can't."

Q: You wouldn't want to give it a shot?

Ellis: "I just want to win. That's not going to win that way. You can't put two small guys out there and try to play (point guard) and (shooting guard) when you've got big (shooting) guards in the league. You just can't do it. OK, yes, we're going to move up and down fast, but eventually the game is going to slow down. You can't do it."
Good thing the Warriors only have five more years left on that contract extension...

Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince: The Pistons may have torched the 2008-09 season by trading Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson, then lost Rasheed Wallace to the Boston Celtics, then spent spent over $90 million on Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, and then brought back a five levels past washed-up Ben Wallace...but don't tell Rip and Tayshaun that the team is rebuilding.

Said Hamilton: "I don't look at it as rebuilding. We want to win and we want to win now. I don't think Ben (Wallace) came back here for a rebuilding time. He feels we have an opportunity to do something special. We have a great group of guys but we have to learn."

Added Prince: "People think it is a rebuilding year, but this is an opportunity to show last year wasn't the real Detroit Pistons. It's been a great organization since I've been here and what you saw last year was unacceptable from all aspects."

Still no word on whether or not those quotes were delivered with a straight face.

Jermaine O'Neal: Yes! The man that we have dubbed "The Drain" has announced that the injury problems that have made him a mockery for the past few seasons are finally history. Said O'Neal: "I'm 100 percent (healthy). The knee isn't giving me any problems. If I had any summer to get back, this was my summer."

So how'd he do it? Here's how:

O'Neal underwent two rigorous off-season workout programs -- a seven-week session with the Heat's trainers followed by an eight-week session with noted fitness guru Tim Grover, the Chicago-based expert who helped Heat guard Dwyane Wade regain his health last summer.

"What he's done this summer," coach Erik Spoelstra said, "is akin to what Dwyane did last year."
Wow. Impressive that, after all these years, Jermaine would get super-serious about his physical conditioning. I wonder...what could have changed? Oh, by the way, did I mention that this is a contract year for The Drain? Dismissed as coincidence...

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If there's a stampede to see the above dreck at all this season, by that logic,
Michael Jordan has been an executive as competent as...uh...Jerry Krause.

So, the Maloofs are busy chortling in glee as a recent Sacramento Bee article has Mayor Kevin Johnson -- he of the late-80s/early-90s Phoenix Suns -- proclaiming that the NCAA's recent rejection of Arco Arena as a continuing college tournament venue could ultimately help send the purple paupers elsewhere. With the billionaires satisfied at more criticism at the big barn in Natomas, what's next for them to do?

Hmm, maybe spend the money to provide a competitive team to justify the replacement arena at Cal Expo, a site near the region's most congested freeway and most popular shopping mall? Funding the said replacement building themselves, as opposed to hoping taxpayers will fawn over the project?


Instead, I and many others who witnessed last year's lacktion largesse received this helpful email:

"As a valued Kings fan, you are invited to purchase Kings individual game tickets before they go on sale to the general public. Your exclusive presale opportunity begins Tuesday, September 22, at 9 a.m. and ends Thursday, September 24, at 11:59 p.m."

Keep in mind I'm not a season ticket holder or anything, so gee...I must've been quaking in my boots, soooo worried that my upper-deck seat from last year's Clippers-Kings sucktacular is going to disappear if I didn't pre-purchase.

But wait, there's more!

"Be sure to buy tickets early as the selection is limited and the best seats will go quickly!
This is your opportunity to share the Kings with your friends and family."

I'm sure those premium seats are being rushed upon right now, you know, those $750 specials they're offering for that Not-Answer visit I am keen on watching:

Yep, you read that right. According to Ticketmaster, these courtside chairs against one of the most promisingly bad squads of the last few years...are priced as if Kobe and King Crab were on the hardwood. Huh!?

Potential consumers are even blessed with a $37 convenience charge, too, putting the final total near $800. But at least that $37 covers the sheer expense of the most awesome CAPTCHA of all time, "thug SO" (the actual CAPTCHA for this ticket search - appropriate for this game, isn't it?).

Still, $800 for some terrible basketball.

And yet the Maloofs wonder why attendance has fallen in a region hit hard by foreclosures and state worker furloughs. Maybe it isn't simply because we don't have an ultra-modern, swanky, luxury box-filled court like the Palace of Auburn Hills...which is exactly the same age as Arco Arena. Woops.

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Kanye West takes a break from belittling teenage girls to preview the upcoming NBA season. Bonus: For your VMA consideration, "Flow On" by Cedric Ceballos. Now just try to get it out of your head.

Hot Chicks with Douchebags: The NBA Edition.

The majority owner of the NJ Nets is now Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. Prokhorov is probably best known for allegedly using prostitutes to entertain clients while head of Norilsk Nickel. Nets season ticket holders need to make note of that.

Proof that the WNBA is the Rodney Dangerfield of professional sports, Case #30726: The LA Sparks playoff games are bumped from their arena in favor of Britney Spears. Case #30726B: The Atlanta Dream are bumped in favor of Sesame Street Live.

Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian are getting married. And this is news because, um..Khloe's sister Kim has a big butt and a sex tape? Just kidding! But seriously, Khloe is also famous because, um...

Something to tide you over until Sheed on opening night: The top 10 meltdowns of the last decade. Surprisingly not making the list: Starbury's Justin.tv account.

Starbury finally got around to listening to the Bad Boys 2 Soundtrack. He was not pleased.

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Karl vs Timmy
This picture of Karl Malone kicking Tim Duncan in the
face has nothing to do with Livin' Large. I just like it.

There has been a long delay in completing the Livin' Large Epilogue, and the feelings about that seem to be ranging from "disappointed" to "hostile." But here's the deal: I have to undergo semi-emergency eye surgery tomorrow. The doctor says it'll take me about a week to recover.

So here's my ironclad promise. The Livin' Large Epilogue will be published by the end of next week...no matter what. That's the best I can do under the circumstances.

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pickup revisionism
Later, he will remember that finger roll as a rim-rattling dunk.

pickup revisionism (pik'-up ri-vizh'-uhn-iz'-uhm) noun. The conscious or unconscious distortion of specific events that occurred during a pickup basketball game such that certain elements of a player's performance appear in a more or less favorable light. Pickup Revisionism appeals to the intellect using a number of techniques to advance a view. These techniques include presenting false memories as genuine, inventing reasons for distrusting accurate accounts of the game, attributing their own conclusions to other players, manipulating statistics to support their views, and deliberately misinterpreting other players' statements.

Usage example: I remember him going something like 3-for-15 from downtown last night, but he swears he was on fire. He even described several shots I know he never made. His pickup revisionism is intense.

Word history: I invented this term to describe how pickup ballers regularly misremember their scoring output and/or shooting performance. It's a takeoff of historical revisionism.

Word trivia: In most cases, pickup revisionism is used to enhance the memory of a player's performance, usually with regards to that player's offense (inflated scoring totals, exaggerated shooting percentages, etc.).

However, some ballers use pickup revisionism to downplay or even disparage how they played. This will lead to statements like "I missed everything" or "I couldn't hit a layup" when in fact they did hit a few jumpers or only missed a couple layups (while making several others).

It can also be used in to negate or diminish the performance of opposing players and even teammates. ("I played great, but damn, Dean couldn't pull down a board and Eric didn't play a lick of defense. We would have won if not for them...")

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Big men who are responsible for manning the paint are going to get dunked on. Science has proven this. Still, there's something so satisfying (to me anyway) about watching Shaquille "I'm the MDE" O'Neal get posterized. Especially after all the poor schmucks he's dunked into the ground over the years.

Here's a video of Alonzo Mourning pounding one down over his one-time nemesis. Not all that earth-shattering. After all, 'Zo was supposed to be able to do that.

Ditto for this one, where MJ walks by Shaq a couple times before flushing on him.

Now we officially enter the twilight zone, as Shaq eats a Spauldingburger served up fresh by Derrick Coleman of all people. Coleman then finger-wags the Diesal, Mutumbo-style.

Ruben Patterson tip-dunks over the big fella. Yup. Ruben Patterson.

Fast foward to the end of this video to watch Shaq get dunked on by the immortal Lawrence "Thunder" Funderburke.

Now watch Shaq's matador defense as he gets dunked on by...Jason Terry. Before watching this clip, I didn't even know Terry could dunk.

During his rookie year, Andrew Bynum made Shaq look like a statue with this dunk.

And here's the ultimate indignity...although it doesn't really qualify as a posterization because Shaq flopped his way out of the poster. Still, it's just sad enough to be included.

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Because sometimes one basketball just isn't enough...

In looking forward to the Gay-Iverson-Mayo-Randolph Era in Memphis, I decided to write about some of the worst APG teams in NBA history. I used a few crude rules in my research. First, pre-shot clock era teams were immediately disqualified. Second, I began my stat search with the 1967-68 season, which is the first year the NBA used an 82-game season. And for that reason, all 1998-99 teams were disqualified because that season was shortened to 50 games due to the player strike...and the level of play was generally pretty sucky that season.

It's worth noting, however, that the 1998-99 Hawks (15.6 APG) and Clippers (16.4 APG) ranked first and second all-time in lowest APG during the shot clock era. So, if nothing else, they deserve dishonorable mention. It's also worth noting all stats came from Basketball-Reference.com.

1. 1976-77 New York Nets: This team averaged 17.3 APG during a season in which the league average was 23.9 APG. The Nets went 22-60, which was the worst record in the league by eight games. (The Milwaukee Bucks finished 30-52). Not surprisingly, they were the worst scoring team in the NBA at 95.9 PPG. (The league average was 106.5 PPG). Even less surprisingly, they were also the worst shooting team in the league at .429 (versus the league average of .465).

Update! Trev wrote: "The 1976-77 Nets where a special kind of bad because they are also the only team on the list to average more turnovers than assists with 19.9 per game. Good god did that team have Emeka Okafor and Yinka Dare's grandfathers running the point or something? No. Just Hall of Famer Tiny Archibald! (Well at least for 34 games)."

2. 2008-09 Memphis Grizzlies: That's right! Last year's Griz ranked second-worst all-time based on my criteria! Good times are coming, my friends. They are coming. Anyway, the Grizzlies averaged 17.4 APG, 93.9 PPG, and shot .454 from the field. The league averages were 20.9 APG, 100.0 PPG and .459. Note that they shot about the league average but were still by far the worst team in terms of APG. Oddly enough, the second-worst APG team last season was...the Orlando Magic at 19.4 APG. However, the Magic finished with 59 wins and the Grizzlies had only 24.

3. 2005-06 New York Knicks: And Isiah Thomas finally rears his ugly head. Although he "only" put this squad together. Larry Brown coached it (against the will of his players of course). Stephon Marbury led these Knicks with 6.3 of their 17.9 APG. The team also featured other noted non-passers such as Eddy Curry, Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and Quentin Richardson. (At 23-59, they finished with the league's second-worst record (to the 21-61 Portland Trail Blazers). For the record, the league average in APG that season was 20.6. Here's the crazy part: the 05-06 Knicks were the 12th best shooting team in the league (.455).

4. 1999-00 Los Angeles Clippers: No "Worst Evers" list would be complete without a mention of the Clippers, right? These Clips dished out 18.0 APG during a season in which the average team was dishing out 22.3. They were the second-worst (to the dreadful post-Jordan Bulls) scoring team (92.0), the third-worst shooting team (.426), and they had the worst record (15-67). They truly were who we thought they were.

5. 1989-90 New Jersey Nets: Speaking of teams who are who we thought they were...the 89-90 Nets also averaged 18.0 APG when the league average was 24.9. That's right. These Nets had almost seven fewer APG than an "average" team. This fact looks even worse when you consider that they were the eighth-best shooting team in the league that season (.485). At 17-65, they were even worse than the expansion Heat (18-64), Magic (18-64), Hornets (19-63), and Timberwolves (22-60).

6. 2005-06 Dallas Mavericks: Here's where things get wonky. Like the 1999-00 Clippers and 1989-90 Nets, these Mavericks averaged 18.0 APG. They finished with only five more total assists than the Knicks squad that ranks third on this list. However, they won 60 games, which gave them the third-best record in the league behind the Pistons (64-18) and Spurs (63-19). Moreover, the Mavs went all the way to the NBA Finals...which they might have won if not for a few dozen iffy foul calls that went in Dwyane Wade's favor. So, basically, they bucked every trend associated with teams who don't pass the ball.

7. 2004-05 Seattle Supersonics: Another trend-bucking team, these Sonics -- led by Ray "I'm open!" Allen (3.7 APG) and Rashard "NO, I'M OPEN, PASS IT TO MEEEEEEE!" Lewis (1.3 APG), the Sonics went 52-30, won the Northwest Division and made it to the Western Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual champion Spurs in six games. Mind you, Rashard Lewis missed the last three games of that series with a sprained left toe. But despite the loss of their second-leading scorer, they came within a few points of forcing a seventh game. Note that, in that final game, the Sonics dished out only 13 assists...well below their season average of 18.1.

8. 2001-02 Houston Rockets: This is more like it! The 01-02 Rockets began the season with a starting lineup of Cuttino Mobley, Steve Francis, Kenny Thomas, Glen Rice and Kevin Cato, and they ended the season with a starting squad of Tierre Brown, Oscar Torres, Kenny Thomas, Terence Morris and Kelvin Cato. No wonder they dished out only 18.1 APG and won a mere 28 games. It's also not surprising that this was Rudy Tomjanovich's next-to-last season with the team.

9. 2005-06 Portland Trail Blazers: Note that this is the third 2005-06 team in this list. Coincidence? I think not. The 21-win Blazers averaged 18.2 APG and were the worst team in the league that season, worse even than the Isiah Thomas-assembled Knicks. And just check out this roster: Zach Randolph, Darius Miles, Juan Dixon, Ruben Patterson, Sebastian Telfair...if you're a Portland fan, I'm sure your mouth is filled with throw-up right now. But they, things are SO much better now, right? See. It all paid off.

10. 2005-06 Orlando Magic: Fittingly enough, we round out this list with yet another team from the 2005-06 season, which shall hereafter be referred to as "The Year Passing Died." Steve Francis, the leader of that 2001-02 Rockets team from two paragraphs ago, led this 36-win squad (which featured Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglue, Jameer Nelson and Grant Hill) with 5.7 of the team's 18.2 APG.

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Editor's note: So everybody knows, there will be a Livin' Large epilogue soon and I will return to my normal posts/articles when the new NBA season begins (or is close to beginning). Right now, these comics are just a fun way for me to pass the time. Just in case you were wondering.

tag comeback-001

tag comeback 2-001

tag comeback 3-001

tag comeback 4-001

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Tag comeback
Yep. He looks ready for NBA action. As long as he's watching
it from an easy chair. And not moving. Or breathing.

Back in June, I mentioned that former Basketbawful mascot Greg Ostertag was alive and jonesing to play in the NBA again. Well, as a great many of you have pointed out via comments and e-mails, the first phase or Project Comeback is complete. Thanks to the Portland Trail Blazers:

Greg Ostertag is looking to make a return to the NBA.

The former Jazz center, who retired from the game three years ago, was invited to work out for the Trail Blazers last week.

"I just miss it," Ostertag told the Journal-World.

"Watching the playoffs last year got me excited. My wife said, 'Why not go try it again?' One day I said, 'What the heck. I'll get in shape and get back on the court and give it a try.'

"I've got nothing to lose."

Portland is the only team that has entertained the idea of giving Ostertag a shot.

"I did all right. I'm rusty. I'd not picked up a ball seriously in three years," added Ostertag. "I have some cobwebs. The more I play, the quicker I'll get it back. Now I'm trying to get in good shape and get stronger. The basketball will come."
But wait, there's more.

"Size, blocking shots and putbacks, setting screens, not letting anybody get easy layups," Ostertag said of what he can bring to the table. "Nobody ever put the ball in my hand and said, 'Go to work,'" Ostertag said of scoring.

Ostertag, who made $48,251,390 during his days in the NBA, isn't money-motivated right now. He's been frugal with his earnings and is set for life financially.

"The more I get into it, the more I want to play," Ostertag said. "I've been working hard since June to get weight off to where I can be productive. I'm in the mode I don't want to work this hard for nothing. I want to get my feet planted somewhere, get in veterans camp, and in the preseason maybe somebody will like what they see."

Chris Emens, senior director of Octagon Basketball, an agency that represents Ostertag, believes his client can be an asset to the Blazers or any other NBA team.

"Greg brings interior defense, rebounding, shot-blocking, playoff and championship-game experience and most importantly for teams in contention, he knows how to win," Emens said.

Most NBA teams are expected to carry just 13 or 14 players this season because of budgetary concerns, instead of the maximum-allotted number of 15.

"It depends if somebody has room," Ostertag said. "I'm not asking for 30 minutes, but give me a chance to compete for playing time, that's all.

"If I don't make an NBA roster, I'll go back to what I was doing -- hunting, golfing, fishing," added Ostertag, who isn't interested in playing in Europe or the NBA Developmental League.
My gut instinct is to say it's never gonna happen. But as someone recently said: limits, like fears, are often an illusion. So, personally speaking, my fingers are crossed. And now Greg Oden has to worry about a second white stiff stealing his PT.

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...the Livin' Large epilogue post should have been published already. I'm sorry. Really. However, I'm trying to dig up additional information for a "Where Are They Now" type of thing. This includes getting actual writeups from characters in the story. That, more than anything else, it what's causing the delay. Hopefully, it'll be worth it when I publish next week.

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laughing jesus
The Lord our God does love a good, hearty laugh.
Thank you so very much, Allen Iverson.

There's already plenty of proof that God loves to laugh. The platypus. Spandex. Pugs and the people who love them. The fact that the complete first and second seasons of Jem and the Holograms is available on DVD.

And now the latest evidence, as Tweeted by Allen Iverson: "God Chose Memphis as the place that I will continue my career."

For the record, God "chose" Memphis for the same reason Aron Ralston chose to cut off his own arm with a dull knife and a pair of pliers: because there was no other choice. So, you know, I guess God's ways aren't so mysterious aftera all.

[Deadspin via chris]

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Larry Bird isn't just one of the greatest basketball players to ever squeeze into a pair of short-shorts (looking like a huge tube of white dough in the process). He's also responsible for some of the best basketball-themes commercials in this universe or any other.

And I'm not referring to that commercial where he played HORSE with Michael Jordan, or even the follow-up with Charles Barkley. Those were all hype. No, I'm talking about the ones where he taught us what to eat, how to dress, and what it means to be...a hero.

7. Larry Bird and Friends versus Converse Shoes: I hope whoever came up with the concept for this commercial got buried so deeply in money and supermodels that he still hasn't been able to dig his way out.

6. Larry Bird versus Heart Disease: Try not to get too emotional as you watch Larry use his legendary acting skills to benefit the American Heart Association. I'm surprised this commercial didn't go back in time and cure every case of heart disease that ever happened.

5. Larry Bird versus Lays Potato Chips: This commercial co-starred Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and introduced us to the horror of Larry's bald head.

4. Larry Bird versus the NBA Catalog: This commerical will transport you into the magical past when NBA fans had no other choice but to send $1 through snail-mail for the chance to buy butt-ugly basketball-themes sweaters.

The sad part is, the NBA made a similar commercial that was ruined by Rick Barry's shoddy acting. This is the NBA catalog commercial equivalent of Marlon Brando (Bird) having to act alongside the guy who played Stifler in the American Pie movies (Barry).

3. Larry Bird versus A Good Meal: Have you ever dreamed of going out to dinner with a legendary basketball player and his almost equally legendary team? If so, this commerical will change your mind.

2. Larry Bird versus a Nasty-ass Hamburger: The fact that Larry became so awesome despite eating habits that are best described as "frightening" or "Jesus Christ what is he putting in his mouth?!" may be his greatest achievement ever.

1. Larry Bird versus the Hip-huggers: The best of Larry's commercials also doubles as the most bizarre. Plus, it's so 80s that just watching it will probably feather your hair and cover your shoelaces in friendship pins.

Honorable mention -- Larry and Magic versus Age: Yes, this commercial gave me chills the first time I saw it. But I could have done without seeing what Larry has transformed into. Did somebody dunk his head in toxic waste or something? Couldn't the NBA have gotten George Lucas to CGI this one?

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alpha baller syndrome
I'm sorry, but not everybody gets to be Snake Plissken.

Alpha Baller Syndrome (al'-fuh bol'-ur sin'-drom') noun. A psychological disorder in which a pickup basketball player attempts to impose his will on other players, often with less-than-successful and possibly inflammatory results.

Usage example: That guy kept screaming at his teammates to crash the boards and play defense, but the only thing he did all night was chuck up threes. He must have Alpha Baller Syndrome.

Word trivia: According to the book Alpha Male Syndrome, alpha males are "take-charge types with a burning desire for victory" whose "high expectations lead to frustration and rage." Furthermore: "At their best, alphas are world-beaters. When they are not at their best -- when they are unaware, out of balance, or out of control -- they create problems that diminish the value of their productive energy. And when they are at their worst, they go down in flames and drag their co-workers, their families and their organizations with them. We call this complex set of characteristics the alpha male syndrome."

Typically, people who suffer from alpha male syndrome:

* Believe their value is defined by the results they achieve.

* Don't care about hurting feelings as long as they acheive their goals.

* Treat any disagreements as a challenge to their authority.

* Tend to think that other people are "the problem."

* Get annoyed when people suggest new ideas or behavior changes.

* Have strong opinions on most subjects, even those they don't know much about.

* Lose their temper when confronted.
Sound familiar? If you've played pickup ball for any length of time, you've probably run across several bums and knuckleheads who suffer from Alpha Baller Syndrome. In my experience, these so-called alpha ballers typically coach people on the finer points of defense while playing none themselves, implore their teammates to crash the boards while they stand around on the perimeter, and call for the ball on every play...because they expect to be the first, second and third option on every offensive possession. A little part of their soul dies every time someone else on their team shoots the ball. Unless, of course, the teammate scored off one of their brilliant assists.

Conversely, the alpha ballers often lose their temper when anyone disagrees with them or suggests that they follow their own advice. And they are incapable of seeing their own faults or inadequacies. Alpha ballers believe they're on fire even when they're ice cold, they think they're shutting down their man even when he's burning them alive, etc. In their minds, they are flawless basketball computers sent back in time to change the future of pickup ballers everywhere.

Furthermore, alpha ballers cannot co-exist, which is bad news, since on any given night there may be several alpha ballers on the court at the same time. When that happens, these idiots will try to out-alpha each other. That usually leads to regular stoppages of play so that they can scream at each other until someone backs down, which can take a while. In worst-case scenarios, there might be upwards of seven or eight alpha ballers in a given game. The result, more often than not, will be a 30-minute screaming match that will make you want to swear off of pickup basketball forever. Or at least until the next time you play.

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All Your Base

Previous installments: Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24. Also check out the official Livin' Large FAQ, Cast List, Flow Chart 1.0, and Flow Chart 2.0.

So that was it. I was done being Mat's roommate-shaped doormat. As far as I was concerned, the situation was over. I just had to figure out how to make that happen. Unfortunately, I didn't have one of those Dr. Evil-style buttons that would drop Mat into a fire pit or a room full of poisonous Mogwai. So, since a bloody and painful homicide was (unfortunately) out of the question, my next best option was an appeal to authority. So I went to Brett, our R.A., to plead my case.

"I can't keep living with that guy," I said. "I can't. I won't."

"Yeah, I figured you might feel that way," Brett said. "And I might have some good news for you."

"Really?" I had no idea what he was going to say, but the mere thought that he might get me out of living with Mat caused me to experience a seeing-naked-boobs-for-the-first-time level of excitement. Okay, maybe that's overstating things. Maybe more like a beating-Mega-Man-for-the-first-time level of excitement. "What is it?"

"Well, at the end of every semester, there's a certain number of students who leave the dorms because they graduate, fail out, or just quit for whatever reason. Anyway, that means there are a lot of room vacancies, particularly at the beginning of the second semester."

"No kidding?" I said.

"No kidding. There are three openings here in NE3 alone," he said. "And I think, like, maybe 15 or 20 in the whole dorm. I don't know how many openings they have at the other dorms..."

"I don't care about that," I said. "I'd really rather stay in this dorm. And in the same hallway, if that’s possible. Who's gone?"

Brett picked a piece of paper up off his desk. "Let's see here. Jake graduated, but it looks like his roommate already found somebody else to move in. Dave is moving to the Quad..."

"Wait, what? Dave's moving? Why?" This was news to me. Not that Dave and I really talked much outside of the roleplaying group, but still.

"Not sure, but I don’t think he wants to live with Garrison anymore," Brett said.

And now I shall briefly turn this narrative over to BadDave:

My first semester was a completely different (and mostly less dramatic) time than Bawful's. For starters, while he was looking forward to college, I was looking forward to leaving the miserable vomitous mass that was my hometown. Literally, the only thing that made me even slightly bummed was leaving my cat behind, and that certainly didn't keep me up during classes. So I showed up on campus with long hair and no expectations. I guess I was supposed to go to class, but all I knew is that I was free. I was even so desperate to be at college that I signed up for marching band. Band members could be there a week early. I quit marching band my sophomore year of high school because it just wasn't for me. But if it got me to college quicker, then what the hell.

Of course, it's never that easy. After being there for 4 or 5 days (during which time I had met Nathan -- what an odd bird) and some other folks, other dudes on the floor started arriving. They were cool enough. But when they asked me who my roommate was, I would tell them. The response was always the same. "The Garrison? Maaaaaann." It was one of those awkward things -- I knew it was bad, but I didn't know what kind of bad. Would he make evil plans and then make me solve riddles to stop him? Was he a chronic masturbator? (Trick question: all college males are chronic masturbators.)

Nobody would answer when I asked, I just got an odd smirk and awful silence. Somewhere in those days, I also got the nickname of "Duuuuuude." Partly because I said it, and partly for the long hair. Because in the midwest, long hair equals hippy surfer dude. Whatever; at least I wasn't "Biscuit" or something. So my roommate showed up one Saturday while I was gone. Now, you youngun's need to remember: we got notified of our roommates, but my only options were to call or write to him. No e-mail. No Facebook stalking. I think I called once and left a message, but we never spoke before seeing each other. So I entered the room, and the horror.

He was a country boy. He had a country two-by-four and plaid chair that had molded to him over years of sloth. He had tight jeans. He was a big guy -- probably 6'1" or so, but he carried himself like he was 5'5". He wasn't in shape, but neither was I. He had thick horn-rimmed glasses, and greased, short black hair laid flat towards his face in the style that George Clooney would later make look good and popular. No, the horror stemmed from two things. First: country music was playing. Second: he was just sitting there. Without a shirt. With lots of hair. On his back. Greasy, stringy, black strands that clung wetly to his pallid, lumpy skin. He was sweating. Into the chair. Into the room.

Seriously, within hours the room smelled like The Garrison. He never spoke -- he was incredibly nervous. He was always in the room. Unless he was eating or in class. He was this ball of anxiety that was always waiting for me in the room. Now, mind you, I was not a good roommate either. I left my laundry in a huge pile by my desk. I was a slob. After a few half-hearted efforts to know him, I gave up. I was no Bawful. There was no sympathy. No pity. I just made sure I was never in the room except to sleep, and occasionally change into new sweats.

One thing about band I loathed was Saturday mornings of game days -- we had to be up and dressed in our spiffy digs by 8 a.m. So I would stir from my hangover at 7:30, and The Garrison would already be up watching WWF on mute. What. The. Eff. I spent my nights with friends, playing nerd games, drinking, video gaming (SNES was new, and I dominated in Street Fighter 2), and god knows what else. Sometime in October I got a girlfriend (whom I actually am still with; what went wrong there?). I actually was less wild than I was in high school, but I still never was in the room or in class. Except for about two weeks after that girl and I got together, The Garrison walked in on us. I thought he was gone for the day. He walked in the room and without missing a beat, spun on one heel, shrunk to half his size, and walked out. So -- okay. I was a jerk roommate, and frankly, I kind of wanted a room I could spend some time in. So I put in a transfer to another hall at semester break, and got it.
"Well, I really don't want to live with Garrison," I said.

"Yeah, I figured," Brett replied. "And that brings us to the third option, which is going to be good news and bad news for you."


"Ron failed out," Brett said.

"Wait, Ron, as in Nathan's roommate?" I said.


"That's great!" I said.

Brett raised an eyebrow.

"Well, not great, maybe," I said. "I mean, I feel bad for Ron and everything. That totally sucks. But me and Nathan are pretty tight."

"I know," Brett said. "When I heard Ron was leaving, I had a feeling you might end up living with Nathan."

"So I guess I'd better go talk to him," I said.

"I guess so," Brett replied. "Good luck."

I sprinted down the hall to Nathan's room to fast I’m pretty sure I went back in time a few seconds.

"So, Nathan, I understand Ron failed out."

Nathan nodded. "Yes, he did."

"Bummer," I said. "And that means you’re out a roommate."

Nathan nodded again. "Yes, it does."

"Which means you need a new one," I said.

"Not necessarily," he replied. "I also have the option of paying extra to have a single room for the semester."

"Well, I can save you that money," I said. "Because it so happens I'm looking to move out of my room."

Nathan sighed. "I had a feeling this was coming."

I ignored his not-so-positive tone. "Think about it. We're friends, we get along pretty well. I'm not seeing the downside here."

"The downside is I'd really like to have a single,” he said.

"And I'd really like to live with a roommate who doesn't threaten to turn me into a bloody smear when I criticize him."

"I understand where you're coming from..." Nathan began.

"No. No, I don't think you do," I said. "Look, I'm in an incredibly shitty situation. You’re my friend. You can help me. So...?"

"So...I really want a single," he said.

I wanted to kick him in the ass so hard he’d be tasting my shoes for weeks.

"Is there anybody else you can move in with?"

"Like who?" I said. "If I move in with some random dude, I could end up with another Mat-like situation. Well, maybe not as bad. But I’d still be playing roommate roulette. Whereas moving in with you would be perfect."

"For you," he corrected.

"Oh, for fuck's sake," I spit out. "You know what? Forget it. Just forget it." I stormed out.

Five minutes later, as I was pacing around the room trying to figure out my next move, there was a knock on the door. It was Nathan.

"I realize I'm being selfish," he said. "I just need some time to think about it. Give me until the end of the week, okay? Friday."

"Fine," I said, even though I didn't really feel like it was fine. "I'm not going anywhere. Obviously."

But that wasn't necessarily the case. Brett had said there were several openings in our dorm.

"Nathan wants until Friday to make up his mind," I told Brett. "Do you think those other openings you told me about will still be available if he says no?"

"We're not going to fill all the vacancies, if that's what you're asking," he said. "I'll talk to the other R.A.s and see if I can find a good place for you to move to. Do you have any specific roommate preferences?"

"Yes," I said. "Anybody other than Mat."

"Well, there's always Garrison..."

"Brett," I groaned. "You know what I mean. The less like Mat any potential roommates are, the better. How's that?"

"Got it," he said.

Now I just had to endure the four-day wait. There's not much to say about that clump of days other than it was pretty much like every other week I'd lived with Mat. Except for the fact that, these days, we pretty much hated each other. Of course, the silent hostility only served to strengthen my resolve.

On Friday morning, Nathan met for a late breakfast.

"Well," he said, looking somewhat defeated. "I've made my decision. You can move in."

I literally could have jumped with joy. "Seriously? No joke?"

"Yes, seriously," he said.

"Thanks, Nathan. I mean, really, thanks. I can’t thank you enough."

He waved off the praise. "It's okay, don’t worry about it. I already talked to Chad about it. He said we just have to fill out some paperwork first. Do you have any openings today?”

"Not really," I said. "After I leave here, I have class pretty much until 3 p.m."

"That's fine," he said. "As long as we do it before five o'clock. Then we'll move your stuff over."

"Wow," I said, shock starting to set in. "Wow. I can't believe it. It's over. I'm done living with Mat."

Nathan finally smiled.

"Seriously, man, thank you."

"And seriously," he said, "it's fine. Enjoy your day knowing that I won’t be having sex with anyone while you try to sleep tonight."

"You don't leave any lights on all night, do you?"

"No," he said.

"Nathan, I think I love you."

"Go," he said. "Now."


I was stoked all day. Honestly, I hadn't felt that happy since the day Aimee and I had become a couple. I could hardly believe it. And I could hardly wait to tell Mat goodbye.

After I got done with classes, I headed back to the dorm. I decided to drop my backpack off at the room before meeting Nathan at the manager's office. When I got to the room, well, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: Mat was loading his things onto a cart.

"What...what's going on?" I asked. They were the first words I'd spoken to him since mid-December.

Mat smiled so wide he looked like one of those Mr. Mouth games. "I'm movin'!"

"Moving?" I said, still confused. "Where to?"

"The Overpass," he said triumphantly. The Overpass was a "secret" hallway in our dorm that had bigger-than-normal rooms. Like, twice as big as the standard units, maybe even bigger.

"How'd that happen?"

"A couple of de football players left," he said. "So de room was empty, and I was next on de waiting list."

"So who's moving in with you?"

He shrugged. "Some guy down the hall."

And thus was Mat rewarded for stealing another student's long distance calling code, not going to class, almost failing out, and being temporarily declared ineligible for cheating on his SAT. Fortune favors the brave...and the stupid.

Once the cart was full, he pushed it outside and headed for the freight elevator. "I'll be back for de rest of my things in a little while," he said.

I didn't waste any time. I took everything of his that was still in the room and piled it haphazardly next to the door. Then I started transferring some of my things over to what had been his side of the room. Then I rearranged the furniture. When Mat returned a half hour later, the entire room had been transformed.

I was laying on the bed with my hands behind my head. "As you can see, I'm really going to miss you," I said. "Oh, and I put all your things there by the door."

"Fuck you," he said.

"I'll pass, thanks," I replied.

Mat put the rest of his things on the cart and left without another word. And then, at long last, I was alone.

But the story doesn't quite end there.

About two weeks after Mat moved out, the phone rang. It was Shelly.

"Hey," she said, and it sounded as if she'd been crying. "Have you talked to Mat lately?"

"No," I said. "Why?"

"Well, right before he moved out, he called and said he'd call me again later with his new phone number," she said. "Only, he never did. I haven't talked to him since. Isn't that weird?"

"Kinda," I said.

"What do you mean 'kinda'?" she asked.

"Oh, well, I mean, that's how Mat gets rid of girls," I said. "He just stops talking to them."

"Wait, what do you mean that's how he gets rid of girls? Like, he's been seeing girls this whole time? Like the whole time I've been dating him?"

I felt bad bursting her bubble this way, but she probably deserved the truth at this point. "Yes, he has. Seeing, fucking, using and abusing, then discarding. It's what he does, who he is."

"Mother fucker!" she said.


"Why didn't you tell me this was going on?" she asked.

"Honestly? It wasn't any of my business, or my responsibility," I said. "And seriously, would you have believed me?"

"Probably. Maybe. I don't know," she said. "I can't believe it."

"Believe it," I said.

"Can you get me his new phone number?"

"As a matter of fact, yes," I said. "He left it so I could forward on his calls."

"Oh!" she said. "Maybe he meant for me to get his number from you!"

"Shelly," I said, "trust me, that's not what he intended."

"We'll see..." she said.

A week later, there was a knock on my door. It was a Friday night, and I had just been getting ready to leave. I opened the door...and it was Shelly."

"Hey," she said.

"Hey back," I said. "What, uh, what are you doing here."

"That bastard wouldn't answer his phone when I called, and I called a lot," she said. "He didn't return any of my calls, either."

"So...you flew out here to see him?"

"Yes," she said.


"Can you take me to his room? Do you know where it is?"

"Yeah," I said. "But you know he might not even be there, right?"

"Just take me," she said.

We walked down to the overpass in complete silence. Shelly stalked along next to me like Jason Voorhees. That chick looked ready to kill.

When we got to the room, I heard the telltale sounds of "No Ordinary Love." He was home...and probably getting ready for a booty call. I told Shelly to wait right around the corner. "Let's surprise him," I said.

It took a few tries, but Mat finally heard me knocking. He answered the door. "Hey man," he said, and he actually sounded pretty friendly. I guess not living with me had at least partially nullified his hatred for me.

"Check out this room," he said, stepping aside so I could see his new digs. "Nice, huh?" And it really was nice. Nicer than he deserved, in fact, which made me feel a little better about what was about to happen.

"So, what's going on?" I asked.

"I'm getting ready for a date," he said. "Dis girl's a model."

"Wait, our school doesn't have a modeling program," I said.

"No, she's a nude model for de art classes," he said.

"Ah, I see. Classy."

"So what'd you stop by for?" he asked.

"Well, I have a surprise for you."

"You do?" He looked genuinely astounded.

"Yeah," I said. "I brought you a visitor."

Then Shelly walked around the corner.

"Hey baby," she said, and there was a dangerous edge to her voice.

"Oh," he said, looking utterly floored. "Uh, hey girl, what up?"

"I just wanted to see my man," she said, and she hugged him. He stared over her head at me with a "WHAT THE FUCK!" look on his face.

"So anyway," I said, turning away, "I'll leave you two lovebirds alone." And that was the last time I ever spoke to Mat.

A few days later, I was studying when the phone rang. It was Shelly.

"I want to get that bastard," she said.

"Hello to you, too."

"I'm going to make him sorry he ever fucked with me," she continued.

"Well, good luck with that," I said. "Give him hell."

"Oh, I plan to," she said. "And I need your help."


"I already called somebody at Hard Copy. I'm gonna expose all the stuff your school's athletic program has been pulling to help Mat out, the money from alumni, the grade shit. But they need at least two sources, so you have to back up my story."

"Whoa, hold on there," I said. "I'm not going to go on freakin' Hard Copy and accuse my school of serious misconduct. That's crazy."

"You'll do it. You owe me for letting him screw me over all those months."

"I don't owe you anything. If you want to get back at Mat, do it without me. See ya!"

I hung up. Seconds later, the phone started ringing again. I picked up the receiver and then slammed it back down. The phone started ringing again. Then again. Then again. I finally just pulled the phone jack out of the wall.

"What a crazy bitch," I whispered to myself.

And that was the last time I ever spoke to Shelly.

Next: The epilogue! Part 1!

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I've already described how popular Reggie Miller is with the ladies. And it's a good thing that's the case...because he won't be ready to join the UFC circuit any time soon. It's not surprising, really. The dude's arms look like a couple old pipe cleaners wrapped in boot leather. You know why he teaches children to read? So they'll help him with all the jars he can't open. Look, all I'm saying is that when old ladies see him out in public, they don't ask for his autograph, they offer to help him across the street.

Okay, I'm done. I think. Here's Reggie's most famous fight: a heated donnybrook with Michael Jordan. A major wag of the finger goes to MJ, who resorted to the cat-fighting tactic of trying to claw Reggie's eyes out. Was that really necessary, Mike? I mean, if a 10-year-old picked a fight with me, I wouldn't try to throw dirt in his face or kick him in the junk. That's just wrong.

And because he has to obsessively copy everything Jordan did, Kobe Bryant also picked a fight with Reggie...leading to a testy rumpus in which Austin Croshere almost lost his jersey. Sorry, ladies. I said "almost."

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injury fakery
I'm not saying Pierce faked an injury in the 2008 NBA Finals. This was the
first image that came up when I searched for "fake injury." Seriously.

injury fakery (in'-juh-re fak'-uh-re) noun. When a pickup basketball player pretends to be injured in order to gain a temporary advantage.

Usage example: A minute ago, that guy was limping around like his leg was gonna fall off. Then all of a sudden he sprinted downcourt at top speed. That was some serious injury fakery right there.

Word trivia: Injury fakery happens alarmingly often in pickup basketball, which is pretty funny because most pickup ballers consider themselves reasonably tough...and many of them display characteristics associated with alpha male syndrome. Maybe it's just me, but pretending you have a booboo doesn't seem very alpha male to me.

The main reasons a player will fake an injury are:

1. To sell a foul: Leading basketball scientists estimate that nearly 80 percent of the fouls called during a typical pickup game are either partially or completely bogus. And some people think that's a conservative estimate. Makeup calls, karma calls, embarrassment calls and just a plain lack of integrity can lead to ridiculous fouls that leave some people scratching their heads and others fantasizing about a brutal and bloody homicide. However, savvy players (read that: shameless fakers) have discovered that fabricating an injury is the best way to sell a weak (or even nonexistent) foul.

After all, if a man screams out in pain, drops to the floor like a stone while clutching his knee/ankle/whatever, or grabs his face like he was bitchslapped by the Hulk, then it stands to reason he MUST have been fouled...and fouled hard. In many cases, there may be some grumbling or a few hushed whispers suggesting injury fakery, but most players will leave the situation alone or even show concern (or at least feign it). To question an injury isn't only an accusation against the "injured" player, it's an indictment of human nature. Because people are better than that, right? (Click here.)

Plus, a lot of pickup ballers secretly fear that if they accuse another player of faking an injury, they might face the same accusation the next time they get injured...and their next injury might even be real.

2. To trick the player he's matched up with: The best way to succeed in basketball is to exploit mismatches. That's just Common Sense 101. When I'm being guarded by a smaller player, I immediately try to post him up. When I'm defended by a slower player, I drive at every opportunity. And when the man I'm matched up against is hurt, I try to use that to my advantage. Conversely, I assume that an injured player will be limited (at best) or a non-factor (at worst) on offense because of his impairment.

And that's exactly what an injury faker wants his opponent to think.

For instance, a pickup baller might think that he can casually job back on defense because his man has a gimpy knee. This might be done out of laziness or sympathy for the "injured" player (because some pickup ballers actually try to avoid embarrassing their opponents). That's when the faker will strike, abandoning his exaggerated limp and rocketing downcourt for an easy layup. Mind you, this tactic will only work once or twice, but one or two baskets can decide a game.

The same thing can happen when a pickup baller is trying to score. He may assume that his defender won't be able to challenge his shot due to the ankle injury he suffered two possessions ago. Surprise! That hurt player just skyed up for an atom smasher.

3. To trick his teammates: Sometimes (or even most of the time), a pickup baller will be matched up against someone who is better than he is. Maybe much better. It's just one of the unfortunate breaks of the game. And when it happens, the lesser player is probably in for a long and humiliating night. However, that humiliation can be reduced (maybe even to nil) if the lesser player pretends to be hurt. See, that gives him an excuse for getting scored on repeatedly or having his shots routinely fed back to him, Wilsonburger-style. "I just can't stay with him guys," a breathless baller might tell his teammates. "It's this bum ankle. I can hardly move."

Sadly, this doesn't only happen in the face of superior competition. In some cases, the faker might simply be a lazy or careless defender. Instead of digging in and trying to shut down his man, it's easier to just pretend that expending the necessary effort is physically impossible.

Of course, injury fakery might also be used after missing an open or easy shot. For instance, a player might chuck up a 25-foot airball and then grab his hand or arm as if the miss was the result of some painful arm cramp instead of terrible shot selection.

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dubious quotes - wilkins
This isn't a Photoshopped graphic or a picture from some hell dimension.
The great Dominique Wilkins actually played for the L.A. Clippers.

After what he deemed a "senseless" trade from the Atlanta Hawks to the Los Angeles Clippers, Dominique said: "I've always wanted to be in Los Angeles and I'm happy to be with the Clippers. The Clippers are a team that will take care of me and that I will play hard for." -- March 21, 1994.

Postscript: Less than five months later, the Clippers withdrew a contract offer and 'Nique signed a three-year deal with the Boston Celtics.

As for the Hawks...they dealt the greatest and most-beloved player in franchise history AND a first round draft pick for Danny Manning. However, Manning played only 26 regular-season and 11 playoff games with the Hawks before rejecting a long-term contract offer and signing with the Phoenix Suns. Which might have been for the best, since Manning blew out his knee and never really recovered.

On the bright side, 'Nique finally won that elusive championship. If you count Euroleague and Greek Cup titles (which you don't.)

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So Nashty
Is that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Moses Malone maybe? Nope. It's Steve Nash.

Chances are, you've probably read or heard about how Steve Nash -- "disguised" in a Chinese opera bandana and a pair of funky goggles -- played some pickup basketball (followed by a little pickup soccer) in Beijing over the weekend. Apparently, Nash is in China for the week doing promotional and (of course) charity work. And, naturally, awesomeness ensued.

Said a decidedly un-ninja-like Nash: "As soon as I walked on they recognized me. [The disguise] didn't really work." Of course they recognized you, Steve. How could they not? After all, you're the only living human being who can swim faster than sharks. Oh, and they might know you for that whole "two-time NBA MVP" thingie too.

I'm not really into hero worship (and don't bring up Larry Bird, because that's more "way of life" than "religion"). But if there was one NBA player I'd want to hang out with -- past or present -- it would be Steve Nash. He's just so cool. Maybe not in an Arthur Fonzarelli kind of way, but Nash seems genuinely fun, clever and self-effacing. Maybe I'm wrong. I mean, I don't know Nash, or any other NBA players for that matter. For all I know, he secretly spends time stealing social security checks and working on a Death Ray that will finally destroy Superman once and for all. But I don't think so.

Seriously, doesn't Nash seem more well-adjusted than most NBA players...particularly the elite ones? There's a noted absense of rampant ego-mania, apathy, self-centeredness and needless alpha male posturing. He's dedicated to winning, but not in the obsessive, borderline (and sometimes over-the-border) toxic way most superstars are. Sure, Nash has expressed disappointment and pointed the random finger on occasion, but he doesn't abuse his teammates or blame them for his shortcomings (or lack of a championship). I can't remember him demanding a trade or humiliating his teammates in the press. He certainly expressed some skepticism (and maybe a little discontent) with the Suns' change in philosophy last season, but I don't believe he got Terry Porter fired. And if he didn't give Porter his full support, that is (as far as I know) his worst sin as a professional basketball player. (Well, that and the hair.)

The fact is, I just really like Steve Nash. And not just because he likes to get liquored up with Dirk Nowiztki. He's one of the good guys. The NBA could use a lot more guys like him. It's unfortunate that his name has become synonymous with the problems surrounding MVP voting. It's even more unfortunate that the :07 Seconds or Less Suns were dismantled (or crumbled from within) before he could make it to the Finals. On the bright side, Nash doesn't appear to measure his life by awards, championships or public opinion. And he's a better person for it.