Friday, June 30, 2006

NBA Draft Grades


Here is my ranking of the draft Wednesday night. 

30-DENVER:  The Nuggets didn't get anyone.  Denver did draft Leon Powe, but dealt him away for a future 2nd rounder.  Not too good for a team with limited cap space and a roster in flux. 

29-PHOENIX:  The Suns had two picks...but came home with nothing.  And I absolutely hate what they did.  Sure, I understand....kinda.  The thinking is that they like the team they have and really didn't want rookie salaries pushing them into the luxury tax bracket.  They also are looking at resigning some of their own guys in the next summer.  However, they came off like cheapskates.  They dealt away both of their picks for cash....even though there were some great players sitting there for their picks.  They did end up with a future 1st rounder from Boston...which just keeps them out of the bottom spot. 

28-SAN ANTONIO:  The Spurs made the second-to-last selection...then shipped him off to Milwaukee.  Not bad for the Spurs, who already have a full roster and a bevy of international guys waiting in the wings. 

27-MIAMI:  Miami was the only team who had no picks in this draft.  The picks they would've had in this draft were used to get Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker.  Not bad. 

26-NEW YORK:  The Knicks gained PF Renaldo Balkman and PG Mardy Collins.  The only reason they aren't dead last is because a couple of teams didn't get to pick.  And by my personal reasoning for this...picking anyone in the draft rates higher than getting nothing.  It's not that I hate the players.  I just hate the picks.  Balkman isn't worth the #20 pick in the draft.  He could've been had later in the draft.  Collins is a defensive combo on a team with four combo guards.  Sigh.  This was the one area that most hoops people feltthat Isiah Thomas was really good at.  Not anymore. 

25-SEATTLE:  The Sonics gained C Saer Sene, SG Dehnam Brown and PG Yotam Halperin.  What's going on??  The Sonics drafted a very raw center with their first rounder.  Last year, they drafted a raw center Johan Petro in the first round.  In 2004, they drafted a raw center Robert Swift in the first round.  So, what is this??  Not to mention, they just drafted a guy who averaged 3 pts and 4 rbs in the Belgium league last year.  THE BELGIUM LEAGUE!!!!  If that was your average in any colleigate conference last'd be looking to go to graduate school.  Sure, he showed some stuff in some exhibition games...but the Sonics needed more from their pick.  Brown and Halperin could be key players to Seattle in time. 

24-SACRAMENTO:  The Kings gained SG Quincy Douby.  I like Douby [I was hoping the Lakers could get him] but he doesn't fill any need.  The Blazers already drafted lanky two-guards in 2005 [Fran Garcia] and 2004 [Kevin Martin].  With a ton of point guards available at their pick...including Bobby Jackson-esque Rajon Rondo....this pick made no sense. 

23-DETROIT:  The Pistons gained C Cheik Samb and PG Will Blaylock [and lost Maurice Evans in a trade].   Samb is a project...a huge kid who will stay over in Spain to develop.  Getting him cost the Pistons Evans.  Blaylock could make the Pistons as the team does need backup guard help since they dealt Carlos Arroyo last season. 

22-MILWAUKEE:  The Bucks gained SF David Noel and SF Damir Markota.  Noel was rated the top athlete in the Orlando camp.  He's a big time dunker, plays pretty good defense, passes well and has a decent jumper.  He may get a shot with the Bucks.  Markota, well, I'm not so sure.   

21-HOUSTON:  The Rockets gained SF Steve Novak and SF Lior Eliyahu via the draft and SF Shane Battier via a trade [they also lost Stromile Swift].  I may be the only person who completely hates Houston's draft.  They essentially traded Rudy Gay [who they drafted] and Swift for Battier.  Huh?  Then they draft Novak.  I like what those guys can do....hit open shots...which will be key playing alongside Yao Ming.  But the price Houston paid to get Battier was too high.  Not to mention that the Rockets only athletic player is now T-Mac.  Battier may be a great defender, but isn't an athletic offensive player.  They dealt away two great athletes in Gay and Swift and gain two stand still jump shooters.  And they didn't even address their biggest need of a point guard.  Eliyahu may be able to sniff the NBA.

20-INDIANA:  The Pacers gained SF Shawne Williams and SG James White.  I don't understand the Pacers, either.  They needed size and a point guard....and got neither.  Sure, Peja could be out the door, but they drafted Danny Granger last year and he does what Williams can do.  White is one heck of an athlete and seemingly coachable...but needs some polishing just to get minutes. 

19-DALLAS:  The Mavericks gained SG Maurice Ager.  Ager is one of those do everything guards that the Mavs seem to really like.  He won't be a star...but he'll get some time. 

18-WASHINGTON:  The Wizards gained PF Olexsiy Pecherov and PF Vladimir Veremeenko.  Both of these guys will sit in Europe for at least a year...but that's fine with Washington.  The Wiz still have Calvin Booth and Michael Ruffin [how is Ruffin making $1.8M???] on the books this coming season....and then they are gone.  These rookies can come in and, at worst, fill the exact same roles. 

17-ORLANDO:  The Magic gained SG JJ Redick and C James Augustine.  Redick is small for a two guard and may not be what Orlando needs.  There were bigger, more athletic guards availiable when they I don't like it.  Redick, again, will be a Steve Kerr kind of player....not Reggie Miller.  As for Augustine, he could make the team as a backup center. 

16-LA CLIPPERS:  The Clippers gained C Paul Davis and PG Guillermo Diaz.  Davis and Diaz are those 2nd round guys who could last a long time in the NBA.  Davis is a big man with a post presence and a nice little offensive game....especially a jump shot.  Big centers who can hit open jumpers are always needed.  Diaz is a ballsy guard who has some trade value if Miami really, really, really wants him. 

15-GOLDEN STATE:  The Warriors gained C Patrick O'Bryant and C Kosta Perovic.  Both picks are big men and both need time to develop.  The Warriors needed big men...but these guys are a bit unproven.  However, if O'Bryant keeps improving as he did late in the college season, he could turn out to be quite a player. 

14-ATLANTA:  The Hawks gained PF Sheldon Williams and C Solomon Jones.  Williams should be a solid NBA player for years as his defense and rebounding will be needed anywhere he goes.  But, the Hawks took him too high and there were guys at the #5 spot that fit bigger needs [Foye, Roy].  Jones has a chance to make the team. 

13-PHILADELPHIA:  The Sixers gained SF Rodney Carney, SF Bobby Jones and C Edin Bavcic.  The draft picks, to me, were rather interesting.  They got an athletic swingman in Carney and a very tough defender in Jones [Bavcic is a project].  Carney was a very good pick, especially at the 16th spot.  However, the still failed to get a point guard.  Of course, this may fall under the "to be continued" pile as Philly may be looking to deal away Allen Iverson...possibly to Boston...and getting some help that way. 

12-TORONTO:  The Raptorsgained PF Andrea Bargnani and SF PJ Tucker.  Boy....Bargnani is a very risky pick.  I think he'll be solid...but it is a risk to take him #1.  Especially when most anyone in the top 6 wouldn't have wanted him.  Toronto coulda/shoulda dealt the pick back and got him and some other stuff.  Still, they wanted him and got him.  Tucker is a nice player, but they drafted Joey Graham last year who does the same things.  And they still didn't get point guard help. 

11-MINNESOTA:  The Timberwolves gained PG Randy Foye, PF Craig Smith and C Loukas Mavrokefalidis.  Foye really helps the Wolves in the backcourt as far as scoring.  He could be ROY.  However, the guy they dealt for him, Brandon Roy, was a better fit.  Also, they were screwed by Portland...who snuck in and took Foye and ruined the premeditaded deal they had with Houston.  I like Craig Smith as he's a tough guy around the basket.  He is a bit smallish though. 

10-BOSTON:  The Celtics gained PG Rajon Rondo and F Leon Powe via the draft, and PG Sebastian Telfair and C Theo Ratliff via trades [they lost Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz].  Boston gained two point guards in Telfair and Rondo.  Interesting, since neither is a good shooter.  Telfair is a poor chemistry guy as well.  This may lead to a possible deal for Allen Iverson down the road.  Not a bad draft for the C's, as they get Ratliff, who at worst shaves a year from dealt Raef LaFrentz.  Powe could be a sleeper as an undersized power forward. 

9-LA LAKERS:  The Lakers gained PG Jordan Farmar and PG Danilo Pinnock via the draft and SF Maurice Evans via trade.  Farmar will be in an interesting battle with Smush Parker and Sasha Vujacic for those point minutes alongside Kobe.  The guy who hits more consistently from the field will rise to the top.  Farmar could be that guy.  He's smart [can pick up the triangle quicker than most] and a leader.  He's also local which couldgive him fan points.  Pinnock could also be thrown into the mix if he does well in the summer leagues.  Evans wanted out of Detroit and got his wish.  As a Laker, he'll back up Kobe and whomever is at small forward. 


8-UTAH:  The Jazz gained SG Ronnie Brewer [above], PG Dee Brown and PF Paul Millsap.  I think the Jazz did a great job with their picks.  Brewer is a Jerry Sloan kind of guy.  He plays tough defense and a guy who can create his own shot...something they desperately needed.  Brown can back up Deron Williams...his former Illinois backcourt mate.  Brown can be that change of pace guard who can get the team running a bit.  Millsap is a stud rebounder [he led the country in boards at UTEP] who can contribute in the paint scoring wise. 

7-CHARLOTTE:  The Bobcats gained SF Adam Morrison and C Ryan Hollins.  Morrison brings a scorer to the Cats, something they haven't had.  He's a guy that can get his shot off anywhere on the court.  And he's passionate which could make him a fan favorite.  Hollins could come in and be a solid prospect as well...a big man who can run the floor.  Also, there is a lot to be read in the Morrison pick.  Jordan was high on Rudy Gay...but kept with the program of Morrison, taking the proven guy instead of a guy who's got more to learn.  Maybe MJ did learn something from the Wizards fiasco [right, Kwame??]

6-PORTLAND:  The Blazers gained C/PF LaMarcus Aldridge, SG Brandon Roy, PG Sergio Rodriguez and C Joel Freeland via the draft and PG Dan Dickau and C Raef LaFrentz via trades [they did lost Viktor Khryapa, Theo Ratliff and Sebastian Telfair in deals].  What a night for Portland.  They pulled off SIX trades.  Now, you can view what the Blazers did two different ways.  You can assess each deal one-by-one or you can look at the overall haul.  As seperate deals, sure, you can dump on Portland for some overzealous actions [why the 2-for-4 and Khryapa pick??].  However, they also did the shrewdest move of the night by blocking the Rockets/Wolves deal by drafting the guy that Minnesota wanted Houston to take.  Then they made the deal.  Overall it looks pretty decent.  Aldridge and Roy are good character guys who can come in and start for Portland.  They already dealt away bad seed Telfair and are looking to deal Zach Randolph.  While LaFrentz isn't the defensive person that Ratliff was, but he is younger and more of a threat to score.  Rodriguez and Freeland can stay in Europe and develop...which is good for Portland who already invested in high school projects in the last 4-5 drafts. 

5-NEW JERSEY:  The Nets gained PG Marcus Williams, PF Josh Boone and SG Hassan Adams.  The Nets had to have been shocked to see Williams fall in their laps.  He was labeled a "Jason Kidd type" of player...and now he gets to work with Kidd.  So he should fit with what the team is trying to do.  Boone is a risk, but when his mind is right, he can rebound, block shots, score around the basket and defend well.  The Nets need that badly.  Adams is a highlight dunker who brings gritty defense.   

4-CLEVELAND:  The Cavaliers gained SG Shannon Brown, PG Daniel Gibson and F Ejike Ugboaja.  Brown fills a need.  A big guard who can score in a variety of ways...including hitting jumpers, something the Cavs need with those LeBron kick-outs.  He'll be more of a combo guard.  Gibson is too, but not as gifted.  Ugboaja is a project that may never set foot in the league. 

3-NEW ORLEANS:  The Hornets gained C Hilton Armstrong, PF Cedric Simmons and SF Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza.  Armstrong and Simmons bring toughness to their frontcourt.  They really need that.  With PJ Brown getting old and nothing else to speak of in the middle, those two guys can come in and make waves.  De Souza was dubbed by some as a first getting him later was a nice move. 

2-CHICAGO:  The Bulls gainedPF Tyrus Thomas and SG Thabo Sefolosha via the draft, and SF Viktor Khryapa via trade.  Thomas was many people's top guy on the board.  He is athletic and could be the interior scorer that Chicago desperately needs.  They also needed a big guard, and Sefolosha is that.  And he is more refined than most foreign players are.  Khyrapa adds depth to the wing position. 

1-MEMPHIS:  The Grizzlies gained SF Rudy Gay [below], PG Kyle Lowry and PF Alexander Johnson via the draft and PF Stromile Swift via trade [they lost Shane Battier].   They dealt away Battier for Gay and Swift, meaning they did lose their best defender but got two awesome athletes.  Swift has been disappointing with both Memphis and Houston, but could be back in the saddle if Memphis decides to use their new found athleticsm to run a bit more.  Lowry helps that aspect too, and brings depth to the point guard spot.  Johnson could make the team if he concentrates on his rebounding abilities.  Still, the team hasn't found a center yet...and must keep Pau Gasol there until they do.


Awwwwww Skeet Skeet Skeet Skeet Skeet Skeet


You know how there are some stories that come on the news that you just cannot believe.  Whether it is a stupid criminal, a moronic botched heist [that Wells Fargo robbery in Charlotte about 10 years ago comes to mind] or just a collection of facts that just are unreal when placed together.

Here is another one.

Eddie Griffin, a forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, ya go.

-About three months ago, Griffin got into an accident.

-He slammed his car into someone else's in the parking lot of a Santana Foods store.

-Oh, and there is surveillace video of everything that happened while Griffin was at the store.

-Griffin has trouble putting on a jacket and repeatedly staggers and tells people in the store he is drunk.

-Griffin told the guy "I'll buy you any car or truck...just not a Bentley".   He also is shown on the tape saying that he cannot go to jail.

-Griffin kept telling employees that he was drunk, he didn't have his license and couldn't go to jail

-When officers arrived, Griffin told them somebody else must have hit the parked car and ran off.  

-It is alleged that Griffin was watching a pornographic DVD in his SUV and masturbating when he crashed into a SUV. Griffin had told the Star Tribune a day after the accident that a dropped cell phone caused him to crash.

-A police officer on the scene is shown on the tape saying "he's not getting a DWI; we're taking him home to St Paul.".  In doing so, they violated rules by leaving the city [they are in Minneapolis] to drive him home without consulting their supervisor. 

-Calls to 911 and people at the scenes told officers that Griffin was really drunk.

So, now the cops on the scene are under investigation....Griffin is humiliated and with his long history of issues, he may have used his last NBA strike.

He has been treated for alcohol abuse and has served 15 days in jail in Houston for probation violation [gun charges].  He also had personal issues while at Seton Hall.

Northwestern Football Coach Dies of a Heart Attack


Northwestern's football coach, Randy Walker died of a heart attack Thursday night.  He was 52.

Walker was having chest pains at home....had the heart attack.....and died. 

He was a successful coach in his six seasons at Northwestern, leading the Wildcats to 37 wins and three bowl games...including a wild 50-38 loss to UCLA in the Sun Bowl, in what turned out to be Walker's final game.  In his first season at NU, his Wildcats won a share of the Big Ten title.

In October 2004, Walker checked himself into a hospital after experiencing chest pains. He was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle; the condition is not a common ailment, and is usually caused by a virus.

He is survived by his wife, Tamara, and two children, Abbey, 28, and Jamie, 25, who is the school's football recruiting assistant.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Anybody's Horror: Lamar Odom's Infant Son Dies In Crib



EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Los Angeles Lakers player Lamar Odom's 6½-month-old son has died, a spokesman for the team said Thursday.

Jayden Odom died Wednesday night, apparently suffocating while sleeping in his crib in New York, according to John Black.

"Lamar is very distraught," Black said. "Both he and the baby's mother are asking that people respect their privacy at this time."

Jayden was born Dec. 15. Odom has two older children -- a son and a daughter.

The 26-year-old Odom came to the Lakers two years ago in the trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to the Miami Heat. Odom averaged 14.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 80 games for the Lakers last season and 19.1 points, 11.0 rebounds and 4.9 assists in their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns.

Please Stop Dumping On Balkman


I want to say how badly I feel for Renaldo Balkman.  He got nailed all night long on ESPN [and nearly everywhere else].  This was Isiah's dumb move to take him at #20 and for a position they do not need [while the next two picks were guys they really could have used]. 

But Balkman didn't deserved to be slammed like that...and I didn't appreciate the was ESPN used him as a walking punchline like that.  If it wasn't for the Blazers making six trades during the day....I'd be willing to bet that the Balkman jokes would have continued most of the night.

What if you are Balkman? 

What if you sat in front of the television....hoping you would be picked.  Hoping that when the 40s or 50s rolled around, your name may be called.  I mean, ya know you're gonna have to bust butt in the summer leagues just to get on the team and make any scratch....and in doing so your career could end any day.

Instead, when that #20 pick rolls around....about halfway thru where you'd thought you'd be....and the the team in the largest city in North America wants you.  You are a first rounder.  Guaranteed contract...and more money than you thought you'd ever get.  Seriously.  He will be able to sign a contract for around $3M over three years instead of maybe the rookie minimum which would be around $400K for a year. 

Imagine in the Balkman household....some hugs, tears, cheers and love.  And then getting to hear the ESPN guys talk about him like he's a disease.  He's a decent player.  He works hard, doesn't need the ball to stay happy and is the kind of person the Knicks need.   Just not with the #20 pick.  Not when they have a pick 9 spots later and with no interest in any of the teams selecting in the next 8. 

I said before that it just seems that Isiah wants to be fired.  Wants his money and wants a quick way out of dodge....before the season starts.  I think he knows that the upcoming season will be a slow and painful death and he will be ridiculed worse than when he was hiding in thehallways of MSG.  He will be standing on the floor with thousands of cameras watching every bead of sweat drip from his forehead. 

I'm not saying at all that Balkman's game is worth the #20 pick....nor am I advocating the Knicks selection of him.  I'm just saying that the personal attacks on him should stop.

I am sure whenever Balkman walks on the floor for the first time....he may hear an entire arena of boos.  Not because of who he is....but what he is.  A second round pick taken at #20. 

I am also sure that when the fans see Balkman bust his butt all over the floor while the millionaires around him whine, pout, moan and gripe.....they'll cheer for him.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006



A wild draft day for the NBA in one of the weirdest drafts in memory.  Some highlights.

-Portland making SIX trades today....with a possible other one looming.  Today, they dealt away Sebastian Telfair, Theo Ratliff, Tyrus Thomas, Randy Foye, James White, Viktor Khryapa, Alexander Johnson and some cash for LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy, Dan Dickau, Raef LaFrentz, Alexander Johnson and Sergio Fernandez.  And, yes, they traded for Alexander Johnson and then traded him away.  And several 2nd round picks were thrown around in this. 

-Stuart Scott said what I was thinking when he stated how many picks he was interviewing were wearing hats of teams they will never play for.

-I don't like ESPN's coverage of the draft.  If the NBA-TV channel showed me anything, it was in their reruns of 20 past NBA drafts that made me long for the days of Bob Neil, Doug Collins, Rick Barry and Hubie Brown doing the draft.  What I did like about the draft coverage [that I hope the NFL guys figure out] is that playing the guessing game before the pick is so boring....especially once you get a bit into the draft and you are just retreading information.  The pick was made, and then they discussed it all the way up to the point the next pick was made.

-I like David Stern coming out and nailing ESPN's Dan Patrick [who in the last 5-6 years has turned into a prick] for "criticizing every draft pick".

-The guys who shone??  Andy Katz was on point on everything.  Amazing that a college hoops guy was on point on so many NBA goings on.  He knew of deals as they were going down....even predicting the picks and what trades will be made.  I also think Greg Anthony shined well because he was the only one that was assessing team's needs and if they met those needs with their picks. 

-The guys who didn't??  Well, I like what Jay Bilas brings is nice [he's the only guy up there with full knowlege of who these players are]....but it clashes with the NBA guys a bit.  Also, Stephen A Smith had some funny moments [mainly bashing Portland and New York] but his constant whining and his dumping on nearly every pick grew old.  He played the old man complaining about the loud music from the kids role well. 

-Spike Lee was hilarious when the Knicks made that notorious #20 pick.

-How far has the NBA draft fallen???  Saer Sene was picked #10 in the draft.  He averaged 3 pts and 4 rbs in the BELGIUM LEAGUE!!!  If you averaged that in the wouldn't be selected in the USBL Draft. here is the draft.


#1-Andrea Bargnani [F-Raptors]:  Just take a step back and realize that Andrea Bargnani was the #1 pick in this draft.  However, it may turn out to be a good pick since he won't hate Toronto like every other NBA player does.  Oh, and I hate the "it will take him a while to contribute" comments since, well, nearly everyone drafted takes a while to contribute.  I think he'll be fine. 

#2-LaMarcus Aldridge [C/F-Blazers]:  The Bulls made this pick and dealt him to Portland.  Aldridge brings a post scoring precense and shotblocker.  Which means Joel Pryzbilla will most likely be gone [and so is Theo Ratliff].  He is a Channing Frye type player but with better defense.

#3-Adam Morrison [SF-Bobcats].  The Bobcats got a guy that can score the basketball...something they've never had.  This helps Raymond Felton and Gerald Wallace in the backcourt and Sean May and Emeka Okafor in the frontcourt.  A good popular pick, too.


#4-Tyrus Thomas [F-Bulls]:  The Blazers made this pick and dealt him to Chicago.  The Bulls coveted Thomas since the beginning but a smokescreen of their possible liking of Aldridge forced Portland to force a deal.  Viktor Khryapa also comes in this the Bulls another servicable bench forward.  This picks opens up the chances that Tyson Chandler is out of Chicago.

#5-Sheldon Williams [C/F-Hawks]:  Instead of doing the wheeling and dealing...the Hawks did what they wanted to do and get Williams.  Williams makes their entire defense better by being the stopper in the lane.  Still, the Hawks could have grabbed Williams further back in the draft and possibly picked up a PG in the process. 

#6-Brandon Roy [SG-Blazers]:  The Wolves made this pick and dealt him to Portland.  Roy brings class, experience and a bit oflocal charm.  He can start right away for Portland and he ends their recent trend of drafting projects.  He is NBA ready.  In the orginal deal with Boston, Portland ends up with Dan Dickau and Raef LaFrentz.

#7-Randy Foye [SG/PG-Timberwolves]:  The Celtics made this pick and dealt him to Portland, who then dealt it to Minnesota.  I had picked in my mock draft Foye to Minnesota cuz I thought he'd be a nice fit as a backcourt scorer.  Could be the rookie of the year.  Some say he's a Chauncey Billups type player....a guy they once had.

#8-Rudy Gay [SF-Grizzlies]:  The Rockets made this pick and dealt him to Memphis.  Gay will fill in for Battier, which Houston got in this deal.  Gay brings athleticsm at the wing spot which Memphis desperately needs.  Especially with Eddie Jones maybe out the door.  I think Fratello will get the most from Gay's abilities.  Also, the Grizzlies got Stromile Swift back in this draft means they added a ton of athletic ability and depth.  And it only cost them Shane Battier.  They've set themselves up nicely in that horrifically talented Southwest division.

#9-Patrick O'Bryant [C-Warriors].  G-State needs someone who can score in the paint....and O'Bryant could do that for them.  He made his name in the NCAA tournament...even saying "if we didn't make the tournament, I'd probably still be in school."

#10-Saer Sene [C-Sonics]:  Now, let me get this straight.  For the third straight season, Seattle selects a very raw rookie center with very limited offense.  They have Robert Swift, Johan Petro and now Sene.  I don't understand the pick, except for the fact that they can keep him in Europe to develop.  Or he, or one of their other centers, could be dealt. 


#11-JJ Redick [SG-Magic]:  Sorry, but I don't like the pick.  This makes for a smallish backcourt for Orlando...and an unathletic one at that.  I still think Redick will have a long career...just as a Steve Kerr typeplayer.

#12-Hilton Armstrong [C/PF-Hornets]:  I love this pick.  Like I said in my mock draft, the Hornets need size and defensive size.  He can block shots and be a pest in the paint.  They really needed that.

#13-Thabo Sefolosha [SG-Bulls]:  The Sixers made this pick and dealt him to Chicago.  Chicago has been in love with him so this trade was to be expected.  He's the kind of guy that can play all over the place for the Bulls. 

#14-Ronnie Brewer [SG-Jazz]:  He's a big shooting guard who can get to the basket and play big time defense.  The only issue is that he isn't a top notch shooter which is what they really need. 

#15-Cedric Simmons [PF-Hornets].  Now, the Hornets got a frontcourt who can be a beast.  With the Armstrong pick already, New Orleans can keep paint pressure at all times.  Adding emerging talent David West and rookie of the year Chris Paul...the Hornets are getting on the right track. 

#16-Rodney Carney [SG-Sixers]:  The Bulls made this pick and dealt him to Philadelphia.  I guess Iverson is staying at the point.  Carney is a good shooter, pretty good defender and can zip up and down the floor.

#17-Shawne Williams [SF-Pacers]:  This makes no sense to me.  He's kind of a do-everything player....but he fits the same spot that they drafted Danny Granger for a year ago.  With some other guys on the board, I don't like this pick.

#18-Olexsiy Pecherov [PF-Wizards]:  Apparantly Pecherov was in this draft because the Wiz promised they'd take him.  He can stay away another year and then come in for the Wizards.

#19-Quicy Douby [SG-Kings]:  An odd pick.  I mean...I like Douby [I was hoping the Lakers could get him] but with Marcus Williams and Rajon Rondo still on the board...Douby doesn't fill a need at all.  They need a backup for Mike Bibby and they already have Bonzi Wells, Kevin Martin and Fran Garcia at that off guard spot. 


#20-Renaldo Balkman [F-Knicks]:  I'm not even gonna go into this.  It makes NOOOO sense.  It was like they had everybody's name in a hat and then picked one out.  Balkman was a mid-2nd-round pick at best.  This was too high.  But, even if the Knicks liked him this bad....they have another 1st round pick coming.  And even if they liked so much that they didn't want to risk anything....WHY??  They have a bunch of...wait...I'm not bothering.  Good luck Isiah!  I guess since this ultimatum by James Dolan means Isiah has one year to turn this around....Isiah knows he's done.  So why not just screw up the franchise. 

#21-Rajon Rondo [PG-Suns]:  This might go to Boston.

#22-Marcus Williams [PG-Nets]:  Finally.  They said he's a young Jason Kidd...well, they'll be workingtogether now.  Nice pick.

#23-Josh Boone [PF-Nets]:  Then the Nets nab Williams' UConn teammate Boone.  Boone disappears at times but he is a guy that does fit a need.  They really want some size inside that can do some work blocking shots and rebounding.  And he can run...which helps the Nets in their style of play.  This is also the FIRST TIME that the same NBA team draft two guys from the same school on back-to-back picks

#24-Kyle Lowry [PG-Grizzlies]:  Great pick for Memphis.  They get the point guard they needed, which was evident by the fact that they had Chucky Atkins starting the last half of the year.  With Lowry, Gay and Swift gained today....they may have revamped most of their starting lineup.

#25-Shannon Brown [SG-Cavaliers].  They needed a guy who can pound open shots...but can create his own.  With all the doubles that LeBron sees....Brown can make them pay.  A great surprise that landed in the Cavs' laps. 

#26-Jordan Farmar [PG-Lakers].  A local pick, Farmar is the kind of guard they needed.  He can hit jumpers, defend well and is a surprisingly good athlete.  He's smart and has great leadership skills.  I think Phil Jackson will like this kid.

#27-Sergio Fernandez [PG-Blazers]:  The Suns made this pick and dealt him to Portland.  Well, since the Blazers dealt away Telfair...they needed a point guard.  "Spanish Chocolate" is a runner and gunner and can stay overseas another year.  This is Phoenix' second deal of the night...both dealing away picks for cash to stay under the tax threshold.   

#28-Maurice Ager [SG-Mavericks]:  Ager adds another swing player who's tough and the kind of guy that Dallas' seems to like.

#29-Mardy Collins [PG/SG-Knicks]:  Another combo guard.  A good player, but how can he get playing time with combo guards Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis already there. 

#30-Joel Freeland [C-Blazers]:  Well, with all the young guys drafted already and the ton of guys they've selected tonight...Portland doesn't mind getting a guy who will sit in Europe for another two years.  He has just three years experience...and only one against any competition.



#31-James White [SG-Pacers].  The Blazers made this pick and dealt him to Indiana.  White brings freak athleticsm to a team that needs it

#32-Steve Novak [SF-Rockets].  Houston fans....think Mark Bullard

#33-Solomon Jones [C-Hawks].  An athletic big man

#34-Paul Davis [C-Clippers].  I like this pick.  Davis could get minutes backing up Kaman. 

#35-PJ Tucker [SF-Raptors].  They just picked up the option on 2005 pick Joey Graham who does the same things, but better.

#36-Craig Smith [PF-Wolves].  One of those guys who's game won't translate to pros.  Work on the jump shot Craig!

#37-Bobby Jones [SG-Sixers].  The Wolves made this pick and dealt him to Philadelphia.  A defensive hawk who will have a place on the Sixers

#38-Kosta Perovic [C-Warriors].  Huge guy who will need time to develop

#39-David Noel [SF-Bucks].  The top rated athlete in the draft. And a Tar Heel!

#40-Denham Brown [SG-Sonics].  Could be a steal in the 2nd round

#41-James Augustine [C-Magic].  He may stick if he can hit jumpers and play a little defense. 


#42-Daniel Gibson [PG-Cavaliers].  The Cavs get another backcourt player.  He isn't a perfect PG, but doesn't have to be with LeBron.

#43-Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza [SF-Hornets].  Some mock drafts had him in the 20s

#44-Lior Eliyahu [SF-Rockets].  The Magic made this pick and dealt him to Houston.  One of those "leave him in Europe and bring him over if he's worth a crap" picks.

#45-Alexander Johnson [PF-Grizzlies].  The Pacers made this pick and dealt him to Portland who then dealt him the Memphis.  He was on three teams on Wednesday, and was a hopeful lottery pick earlier in the week.  Good move.

#46-Dee Brown [PG-Jazz].  The Jazz get another point guard, in fact Deron Williams' backcourt mate at Illinois.

#47-Paul Millsapp [PF-Jazz].  Led the nation in rebounding for three years.

#48-Vladimir Veremeenko [PF-Wizards].  Another down-the-road pick for the Wiz

#49-Leon Powe [PF-Celtics].  The Nuggets made this pick and dealt him to Boston.  I love his talent and tenacity...but knee injuries slowed him down a bunch. 

#50-Ryan Hollins [C-Bobcats].  Could end up being Brezec's backup

#51-Chiek Samb [C-Pistons].  The Lakers made this pick and dealt him to Detroit.   A smaller Manute Bol

#52-Guillermo Diaz [PG-Clippers].  Could be trade bait for the Heat.

#53-Yotam Halperin [PG/SG-Sonics].  Another project...but he's closer to the NBA than many of the other ones


#54-Hasan Adams [SG-Nets].  A big time leaper who could find some time with the Nets

#55-Ejike Ugboaja [PF-Cavaliers].  Stop if you heard this before...he'll stay overseas to learn the game.

#56-Eden Bavcic [C-Sixers].  The Raptors made this pick and dealt him to Philadelphia.   See above

#57-Loukas Mavrokefalidis [C-Wolves].  Some people in the know say that this could be the breakout player of the 2nd round.

#58-Danilo Pinnock [PG-Lakers].  The Mavericks made this pick and dealt him to LA Lakers.   Another candidate for that point guard spot.

#59-Damir Markota [SF-Bucks].  The Spurs made this pick and dealt him to Milwaukee.   Foreign guy.

#60-Will Blaylock [PG-Pistons].  If he gets his head on straight, he could become a player who can stay in the league

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Can We Fire James Dolan ??


The MSG chairman and the dude running the New York Knicks says that Isiah Thomas has one year to turn this team around.

He says....

"I'm saying this right with Isiah here. This is his team.  He made this bed. There's nobody better than him to make this thing go forward.  But he has to do that and he has one year, one season to do that. At this time next year, Isiah will be with us if we can all sit here and say that this team has made significant progress towards its goal of eventually becoming an NBA championship team. If we can't say that, then Isiah will not be here."

No offense....but he's an idiot.  You cannot run a sports franchise like this.  You just gave Larry Brown one year to try to revitalize this team....and he couldn't do it.  Then you show him the door....and try to stiff him his money you owe him.  And Isiah won't be able to either.

True, Isiah made this bed.  I have been very critical of Isiah Thomas over a lot of things....especially this team.  It is a horrible mix of players with very bad contracts.  But even if Red Auerbach, Phil Jackson and Lenny Wilkens were all coaching this would be bad.  And asking a coach....any fix the worst team in the Eastern Conference in one year is ridiculous.  And to publically place this kind of pressure on a guy like this is unreasonable as well. 

And what is improvement??  Making the playoffs??  Well, the Knicks could actually do that if they play well enough.  When assessing the Eastern make the playoffs you just have to be the 8th worst team [or 8th best].  Charlotte is still an expansion franchise that is building slowly.  Atlanta, though they have some pieces, is still a season or two away.  Toronto was so bad early in the season....but were respectably average the rest of the way.  The Celtics are a bit of a mess too.  There are four teams they can be better than.

Philadelphia has Iverson...well, maybe they will....and he can keep them relevant.  If he goes, then they could be had as well.  Well, that makes five teams.

After that, it is tough.  Orlando is improving and could be a player away from being a playoff team.  Milwaukee has a nice young nucleus of Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Bobby Simmons, etc.  I mean, how'd they make the playoffs last year?  Indiana still has a decent squad....but they could be moving Jermaine O'Neal which would make them vunerable.  Chicago had an off year last season...but is still primed for a playoff push.  Same deal with Washington.  And there is no way that New York could pass Detroit, Miami, New Jersey or Cleveland.

The Knicks could shoot for a 2nd place finish in the Atlantic Division...which is entirely possible [given the C's, Raps and Sixers all aren't great]. 

Still...the "significant" improvement Dolan wants can't be reached.  Not when the team sucks.  Sure, this may be Dolan's way of getting rid of Thomas...but why not just fire him.  Publically demanding the coach bring his team to improvement rarely ever works and Dolan has as much to blame as anyone. 

Sportz Assassin's Mock NBA Draft

Again, let me just say that this draft is a complete crapshoot.  Who the heck knows what will happen.  Well, here is my best guess.  If I get 10 of these correct, I'll be happy.

1-TORONTO:  Andrea Bargnani [PF-Italy]:  Not since Kwame Brown went #1 to the Wiz back in 2001 have we had no idea who the top pick would be this close to the draft.  Right now, with a gun to my head, I'd say Andrea Bargnani....just because Bargnani's former GM was just hired by the Raptors and that Brian Colangelo, their new main man, has been following Bargnani for quite some time.  OR IT MIGHT BE: LaMarcus Aldridge.

2-CHICAGO [from NY]: Tyrus Thomas [F-LSU]   Yeah, the recent rumors have Aldridge going here.  I'm not gonna waver.  I think this pick will be Tyrus Thomas no matter what [well, unless the Raptors get him first].  The rumor mills have been speculating about the Bulls love for Thomas' workouts and such.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Aldridge.

3-CHARLOTTE: Adam Morrison [SF-Gonzaga]  This pick will show who's really running things in the Queen City.  Charlotte would like Adam Morrison's instant ability to bring some interest and scoring in.  Bernie Bickerstaff loves him.  But new honcho Michael Jordan wants Rudy Gay.  Who'll be the winner!?!?  I think Bernie wins one last one.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Rudy Gay.

4-PORTLAND: LaMarcus Aldridge [C/PF-Texas]  I think they'll go with LaMarcus Aldridge.  Morrison is probably the most ready to come in an contribute...and the Blazers have invested their last, what, 5 first round picks on high schoolers.  But Aldridge is the kind of big man they could use as a fixture down low for a while.  With Zach Randolph possibly out or Portland via trade and the fact the Blazers have invested in perimeter players in recent drafts....I think L.A. goes here.   OR IT MIGHT BE:  Thomas, if Chicago does bite on Aldridge.

5-ATLANTA: Brandon Roy [SG-Washington]  Well, every freakin' rumor site has the Hawks giving Sheldon Williams a guarantee.  And no one in the top four wants him.  If, for some reason, Aldridge is available....they could take him instead.  They don't need another forward and they don't need Brandon Roy [a kind of Joe Johnson player] though there are big rumors saying that Atlanta will take Roy here and then deal him to Houston for Sheldon Williams [who the Rockets would take with the #8 pick].  Right now, I think Atlanta selects Roy...then deals him away.  Still, the Hawks could be scared that someone behind may steal away Williams and snag him now.  Especially now that Portland got the #7 pick.  However, if Aldridge is taken at #4, then the deal may still be on.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Sheldon Williams

6-MINNESOTA:  Randy Foye [PG-Villanova]:  Minnesota needs size and backcourt help.  Foye brings that scoring point guard ability to the Wolves who need someone in the backcourt to do something.  If the Hawks-Rockets deal is off...Brandon Roy might slide here and the Wolves definetly will jump all over that.  Especially if the Rockets still wanted him that badly that they'd deal Luther Head and their pick for him.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Rudy Gay

7-BOSTON:  Rudy Gay [SF-UConn]  Boston dealt this pick today to Portland...but after the official deadline so the C's will be drafting for the Blazers....and if the Blazers get either Aldridge or Thomas with the #4 pick...then Gay would be the man here.  If Morrison or Roy was used with the #4 pick....maybe a guard goes here.  Either way, Portland can mix and match with their two picks.  Gay would be the ideal player to pick they could then deal away Darius Miles with less of a worry.  And less value.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Sheldon Williams

8-HOUSTON:  Sheldon Williams [C/PF-Duke]  Go back to Atlanta.  See that deal.  Houston selects Sheldon Williams here....then deals him for Brandon Roy.   If, for some reason Atlanta gets cold feet....that meant Roy slides to Minnesota at #6 and Houston may be willing to deal with them there.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Marcus Williams

9-GOLDEN STATE: Patrick O'Bryant [C-Bradley]:  If something goes complete weird, then maybe one of those top guys would slip here.  Before the C's-Blazers trade, I had Rudy Gay here.  Not now.  So, it is back to the original plan of Patrick O'Bryant.   The Warriors need a scoring postplayer more than anything...and O'Bryant could be that.   O'Bryant has made a name for himself via the NCAA tournament where he got his Bradley team to the Sweet 16 with some tough play.  And, as we all know, finding a good big man is tough in today's NBA.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Cedric Simmons

10-SEATTLE: Cedric Simmons [C/PF-NC State]  The Sonics need some toughness and Cedric Simmons can give it to them.  He could be Danny Fortson without the crap.  If, for some reason, Sheldon Williams fall back....he'd be a good pick here too.  So could Hilton Armstrong.  The only twist is that the Sonics have drafted Johan Petroand Robert Swift in recent drafts too.  OR IT COULD BE:  Hilton Armstrong.

11-ORLANDO: Rodney Carney [SG/SF-Memphis]:  It is just a matter of time before Grant Hill goes Rodney Carney should be the pick here.  An exciting athletic swingman to run along with Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard.  OR IT COULD BE:  JJ Redick.

12-NEW ORLEANS: Hilton Armstrong [C-UConn]  I think they have to take Hilton Armstrong here.  Armstrong would give the Hornets a big defensive presence in the middle and a guy who could develop a little offensive game.  With PJ Brown getting older and their two previous centers gone via trade and drug abuse...this makes the most sense.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Alexander Johnson. 

13-PHILADELPHIA:  Shawne Williams [SF-Memphis]  Word is that Philly loves that's the only reason I have him slotted here.  I think they could trade back and still nab him.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Rajon Rondo.   

14-UTAH:  JJ Redick [SG-Duke]    I think that JJ Redick actually fits perfect here.  Okay, not just the "white boy in Utah" thing.  Utah can't shoot a lick....and Redick can do that.  And that's all he'll be asked to do.  Still, I don't think he's anything more than Steve Kerr.  But that's not an entirely bad thing.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Saer Sene. 

15-NEW ORLEANS [from MIL]:  Ronnie Brewer [SG-Arkansas] Brewer could end up being their guy.  He can handle the rock, plays defense, good athletic ability and an NBA pedigree [his dad played several years in the NBA].  And gives the Hornets an out for dealing JR Smith.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Sene.

16-CHICAGO:  Saer Sene [C-Senegal]  Even if they nab Thomas with the #2 pick, I think they will still go big here.  But maybe a project.  Say, Saer Sene??  He won't give you any offense but can be a defensive stopper if given the right training.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Marcus Williams. 

17-INDIANA:  Marcus Williams [PG-UConn]  It's one of those things were someone's athletic ability seems to drag them down.  Well, his past too.  Williams could be a very good point guard in this league...but his selling stolen laptops and his bad rap as a unathletic player hurts him.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Rajon Rondo

18-WASHINGTON:  Rajon Rondo [PG-Kentucky]  Rondo would give the Wiz a true point guard who can get that team into it's running attack.  He also would allow Arenas to move to the shooting guard spot.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Olexsiy Pecherov

19-SACRAMENTO:  Sergio Rodriguez [PG-Spain]:   How can it not be Sergio Rodriguez?  A balls-out quick point guard, Sergio could be a nice addition to the run-and-gun Kings.   He'd be a nice backup to Mike Bibby.  Of course, with Muss as the new coach....his lack of defense could be a concern.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Johnson.

20-NEW YORK [from DEN]: Thabo Sefolosha [SF-Switzerland]  Hey, say what you want about Zeke, but he'd done a pretty decent job drafting.  A few things.  The Knicks have lots of stuff but it doesn't amount to anything.  I think this pick depends on Isiah's confidence in his tenure.  There is no immediate help at this slot.  If not [my vote], he will take a foreign player.  They already have a ton of contracts filling up theroster.  Here's hoping Sefolosha can stay in Europe and develop some more before coming to America.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Joel Freeland

21-PHOENIX [from LAL]:  Maurice Ager [SG-Michigan State]  Let's see.  Ager is a big time athlete who is explosive and runs the floor well.  Sounds like a match to me!  Maurice Ager would be another excellent athlete and shooter into the fold.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Kyle Lowry 

22-NEW JERSEY [from LAC]:  Kyle Lowry [PG-Villanova]
23-NEW JERSEY :  Alexander Johnson [PF-Florida State]
   The Nets have consecutive picks, so they don't have to just sit and choose.  Take two!  I think Kyle Lowry is one pick.  He would be a good backup for Jason Kidd and can get the Nets running again.  The other could be Johnson, who adds an athletic frontcourt player...something they really need.  Or course, the Nets could trade one of the picks to, say, Portland and get the #30 and #31 picks.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Pecherov

24-MEMPHIS: Jordan Farmar [PG-UCLA]:  They want a center...but they'll all be gone.  Jordan Farmar could be a good fit.  He's more of a distributor...which would be nice with this team.  They need some point guard help [Damon Stoudamire was hurt and Chucky Atkins was the starter].  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Shannon Brown.

25-CLEVELAND: Shannon Brown [G-Michigan State]  I think that Shannon Brown could be a good fit in Cleveland.  Not a traditional point guard....but with LeBron there, you don't need one.  He is a shooter who can defend....and can create his own shot.  A good pick here.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Mardy Collins

26-LA LAKERS [from MIA]:  Mardy Collins [SG-Temple]  The last of the Shaq deal....and the Lakers will get:  Mardy Collins.  Not spectacular....but effective.  He can shoot a bit, plays tough Temple defense, durable, can handle the rock and is willing to defer the scoring.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Quincy Douby

27-PHOENIX:  Oleksiy Pecherov [PF-Ukraine]:  Pecherov may not be around for a year or so.  He is a good shooting big man who can run up and down the floor.  Again, a Suns type of player.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Guillermo Diaz 

28-DALLAS:  Marcus Vinicius [SF-Brazil]  A very good offensive talent...but lacks defensive ability right now.  Still, he's the kind of guy that the Mavs can leave in international play and come get later when they need him.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Freeland.

29-NEW YORK [from SA]:  Josh Boone.  Another big man with questionable work ethic.  But rampant rumors are that the Knicks kept Boone in the draft witha promise here.  OR IT MIGHT BE:  Freeland

30-PORTLAND [from DET]:  Joel Freeland [C/F-England]  The ultimate project, Freeland has only been playing hoops for three years.  Still, the Blazers don't need rookies right leaving him in Europe [or even the D-league] wouldn't be a bad idea.


31-PORTLAND:  Kevin Pittsnogle, C-West Virginia.  A veteran big man with range
32-HOUSTON [from NY]:  Dee Brown, PG-Illinois.  Quick point guard who will help if Luther Head is out the door
33-ATLANTA:  Quincy Douby, G-Rutgers.  This is where Head may be heading, but Hawks still need some ball handlers
34-LA CLIPPERS [from Cha]:  PJ Tucker, SG-Texas.  Adds depth to the backcourt
35-TORONTO:  Paul Davis, C-Michigan State.  They still needed a center and Davis is a capable one
36-MINNESOTA:  Daniel Gibson, PG-Texas.  Some more point guard help
37-MINNESOTA [from Bos]:  Denham Brown, SG-UConn.  Some more backcourt help
38-GOLDEN STATE:  Steve Novak, SF-Marquette.  Again, they need some shooters
39-MILWAUKEE [from Hou]:  James White, SG-Cincinnati.  They need depth, and White is just an athletic freak who can always help out
40-SEATTLE:  Guillermo Diaz, G-Miami.  Diaz takes over that ol' Flip Murray role.
41-ORLANDO:  Mike Gansy, SG-West Virginia.  Good shooter who can come in and hit shots for Magic
42-CLEVELAND [from Phil]:  Allan Ray, PG-Villanova.  A "point guard" that has NBA range.  Good to play alongside LeBron.
43-NEW ORLEANS:  Will Blaylock, PG-Iowa State.  Could be a nice backup to Chris Paul
44-ORLANDO [from Mil]:  Leon Powe, PF-Cal.  I love Powe, and he could be a nice workman under the basket alongside Dwight Howard.
45-INDIANA:  Eric Williams, PF-Wake Forest.  A physical big man.
46-UTAH [from Chi]:  Gerry McNamara, PG-Syracuse.  Why not?
47-UTAH:  Brandon Bowman, SF-Georgetown.  An unselfish athlete that fits Utah's system.
48-WASHINGTON:  Ryan Hollins, C-UCLA.  Needs to put some weight on.
49-DENVER:  Pops Mensah-Bonsu, PF-G Washington.  A guy who can do some dirty work under the basket
50-CHARLOTTE [from Sac]:  David Noel SF/SG-North Carolina  Why not do the UNC thing again [after last year's Felton and May haul]?  Besides, he's rated the best athlete in the draft.
51-LA LAKERS:  Bobby Jones, SG-Washington.  A defensive hawk who the Lakers could use to help lock down opponent's swingmen.
52-LA CLIPPERS:  Craig Smith, PF-Boston College.  NBA body who works well offensively around the basket
53-SEATTLE [from Mem]:  Hasan Adams, SG-Arizona.  A tad too small, but a freak athlete.
54-NEW JERSEY:  DariusWashington, PG-Memphis.  A guy with heart that would fill in as Kidd's reserve.
55-CLEVELAND:  Renaldo Balkman, F-So Carolina.  He can defend all over the place and works hard on the glass.
56-TORONTO [from Mia]:  Louis Admunson, F-UNLV.  Big time rebounder.
57-MINNESOTA [from Phx]:  Taj Gray, F-Oklahoma.  The next Gary Trent??
58-DALLAS:  James Augustine, C-Illinois.  Not that great, but serviceable.
59-SAN ANTONIO:  Yotam Holperin, SG-Israel.  What did you expect??
60-DETROIT:  Justin Williams, C-Wyoming.  A freak shot blocker.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Nice Flippin' Play!


The Tar Heels won every game....except the Final two games played in the 2006 College Baseball season.  They had a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three championship series with Oregon State.

The pitching had a bad night on Sunday....losing 11-7.  Then they committed FOUR errors in this final game.  And the last error was a doozy.

In the 8th inning...there were two outs and no one on.  Then a walk.  Then a bloop single.  Then, to get out of the inning, the Heels got a grounder to second which Bryan Steed threw into the first base dugout.  A run scores....the game winning run.

I'm a die hard fan of the Redskins, Tar Heels, Lakers and Reds....and I don't remember the last time I was so bent in a title tilt like this.  Sure, the 1984 Super Bowl and the 1989 NBA Finals were pissers....but those events weren't really even close.  Neither was the 2004 NBA Finals.  But, to lose the championship on a throwing error FROM SECOND BASE in a tie game in the bottom of the 9th inning just behooves me. 

My wife can back this up.  Sitting there, I kept saying "don't screw this up....don't screw this up".  The bouncer to 2nd came and I said "cool, we're out of it!".  I meant the inning....not the game!  He threw it to the dugout and, again, I said "we screwed this up".

Lou Pinella Ain't Got Nothing On Me!!!

                              Joe Mikulik, Asheville Tourists manager

CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO OF Minor League Manager Goes On Tirade

I saw this last night on ESPN....saw this on AOL's Welcome Screen today....and my wife sent this to me via e-mail.

Since I live about, oh, an hour from Lexington....I'll throw this up there.

It is Asheville Tourists manager Joe Mikulik going BALLISTIC in Lexington against the Lexington Legends.

The Legends have gained fame of late after Roger Clemens began his major league comeback by pitching for Lexington earlier this month.  Clemens sone, Koby, continues to play for the Legends.  And, on a personal note, my uncle...Russ Nixon...was the Legends manager about 2 years ago. 

Anyways, watch the video and enjoy the fun watching dude get bent.  He throws his hat.  He dives to 2nd base.  He "steals" 2nd base.  He throws 2nd base.  He kicks dirt on the ump.  He covers home plate with dirt.  He tosses bats all over the field.  He grabs a water bottle from the dugout and makes homeplate a muddy pit...then cleans it.  Then does a catchers stance behind the plate before spiking his water bottle.


The NBA Draft Is A-Comin'


                               One of these guys could go #1

Last year, I did a whole big mock draft.  I asked a bunch of people who were fans of their various teams and we held a mock draft as if they were their team's GM.  It went pretty well....and it went pretty wrong.  As in most drafts, one wrench knocks out the entire machine.

I didn't do one this year because the 2006 NBA Draft is the ultimate crapshoot.  This is the first draft since the ban on high schoolers entering.  And because the last two years saw rumors of this rule coming....most of the top talent over the past two years jumped early.  It has it's effect.  The top high school player, Greg Oden, will be attending Ohio State in the fall.  If allowed, he would have been the clear cut #1 pick in this draft. 

So, this draft doesn't have any stars.  It doesn't have any instant help.  There are only a few guys that could possibly expect to start right away [Adam Morrison, Brandon Roy]. 

But it will be a deep draft.  The kind of draft where we might see guys taken in the 2nd round last a long time.  It could be similar to the 2001 draft.  That was the last draft that didn't feature a set top pick [Yao Ming, LeBron James, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bogut have all been taken #1 since then].  The top pick was Kwame Brown...who did next to nothing in Washington and is trying to resurrect his career with the Lakers.  Of the 1st rounders, only Pau Gasol and Tony Parker have made an All Star Game.  Yet, the 2nd round featured Gilbert of the league's top scorers this past year. 

It, again, should be that kind of draft.  A very eccletic draft.  The top pick could be a Euro [Bargnani], or a tall Texan [Aldridge] or a guy who made his name in the NCAA tournament [Thomas] or the NCAA's top scorer [Morrison] or a swingman with no real set position [Roy].  It could be dealt away.  Who knows.  But here are a few things that I'd like to say about the draft as a whole.

RAPTORS SHOULD MAKE THAT TRADE WITH CHARLOTTE:  Toronto has the top pick, and there are rumors that the Bobcats would like it.  In doing so, they may select Morrison or Roy.  Either way, the Raptors could get that player [or Bargnani who they may really want] in that #3 get Brevin Knight.  Charlotte is offering up Knight, who in 2005 was 2nd in the NBA in assists.  Toronto, make that deal.

JJ REDICK WON'T BE AN ALL STAR:  Word is that Houston may take Redick at #8.  Big mistake.  First off, there are better players on the board at that spot.  Second off, I think Redick is the next coming of Steve Kerr.  That's not a bad thing....but you wouldn't pick Kerr with the #8 pick in any draft in the last 20 years would you?  Redick is slow...cannot create his own a smallish 2-guard....can't defend....and won't get those ACC calls.  Redick was a product of Duke as much as he was their star.  Coach K ran everything he could for Redick.  That won't happen in Houston or anywhere else.  But Redick does have insane range...and that is always needed in the Association.  Redick can make a career being a long range Kerr....and stretch defenses out. 

Since that 2001 draft I mentioned earlier, the best 4-year college guys that have played in the NBA are Kirk Hinrich, Tayshaun Prince, Shane Battier and Josh Howard.  Each has found a niche in the league and stayed with it.  In fact, of the 2006 NBA All Stars....only FOUR went the entire four years of college.  If Redick understands and accepts his new life....he could have a long, albeit a non-star, career. 

THIS BARGNANI CAT WILL BE OKAY:  Alright.  If you were a college basketball know who Brandon Roy is.  Rudy Gay.  LaMarcus Aldridge.  Adam Morrison.  But, then the draft rolls around and you hear that some Italian dude named Andrea Bargnani could be the top pick.  Who is he?  Drafting foreigners is about as risky as drafting high school players.  You could get the next Dirk Nowitzki.  You could get the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili.  Or you could get the next Darko Milicic...which the jury is still out on.  At least he came to America....not like Fran Vazquez who ripped Orlando's heart in last June's draft [he said, "no thanks" to the NBA after the Magic drafted him with the 11th pick]. 

I don't think Andrea will be the next Dirk.  But he won't be the next Tskiti either.  He could be the next Peja...and that ain't too bad.

HEY....I KNOW THAT DUDE:  There will be plenty of names you do know in this draft.  Especially once David Stern passes the mike over.  Guys like Kevin Pittnogle who could sneak into the 1st round.  There is Josh Boone, Dee Brown, Pittsnogle's teammate Mike Gansey, Paul Davis, Allan Ray [the dude who about had his eye poked from his head], Leon Powe, Gerry McNamara, Craig Smith, Nik Caner-Medley and Pops Mensah-Bonsu. 

WHICH LIKELY 2ND ROUND PICK DO I LIKE:  I love Leon Powe and I think he has a future in this league.  He's a rebounding machine and loves to do garbage work around the basket.  He has an array of offensive moves around the basket and has a nose for the ball.  What he doesn't have is range....and a 6-7 forward needs that.  If he can develop a shot....he can stick in the NBA.  I really hope he gets a good look somewhere. 

ADAM MORRISON WILL BE A DECENT NBA PLAYER:  He is labeled the "next Larry Bird".  I see him as the "next Keith Van Horn".  Van Horn went with the #2 pick....and hasn't been much more than a journeyman who can get some points here and there.  I see the same for Morrison.  I like his skills...but I'm not sure how they'll translate to the NBA game.  His ability to pass and create his own shot will help him...but can he play the defense needed from his position to make a difference?? 

I THINK RUDY GAY WILL BE THE STAR OF THIS DRAFT:  There is always one guy who emerges to be the King of the Draft right off the bat.  That guy could be Rudy Gay.  Gay can come in and make a difference....especially if he goes to Charlotte or Portland where he'd get some playing time.  He has an NBA ready body and the ability to see the entire game....not just what he does well.  He isn't LeBron James....but he's kinda in that mold.  If he went to Charlotte at #3, he'd be alongside fellow UConn alumnus Emeka Okafor and point guard Raymond Felton as the nucleus for the franchise. 

I CAN'T WAIT FOR THIS GUY TO BE AN NBA PLAYER:  I want to see Marcus Vinicius Vieira de Souza in the NBA.  I guess in Brazil, either you go by one name or by several.  I just wanna see "Vinicius Vieira de Souza" on the back of a jersey. 

SPORTZ' "RED FLAG" AWARD:  This goes to Joel Freeland.  He is a forward from England.  Yep, England.  Sorry, but wasn't the last English player some guy named Michael Olowokandi???  Yikes!  Don't worry.  He's only played real organized hoops from one year, hoops at all for just three and has barely seen any NBA games.  Not really what I'd like to hear in a prospect my team just drafted.  But...he is a 7-footer and ya can't teach height.  Eh, Kandi man???


Sunday, June 25, 2006

Clifford Etienne Gets 150-yr Sentence


Clifford Etienne has, essentially, one shining moment.  And that moment lasted about 49 seconds.  Etienne....nicknamed "The Black Rhino"....last 49 seconds into his 2003 fight with Mike Tyson back when Tyson was doing easy fights to get money. 

Now he's got a nearly 55,000 day sentence for attempted 2nd degree murder and various other charges.  In August 2005, he forced his way into a check cashing place in Baton Rouge and stole more than $1,900.  He tried to hijack a car that contained two kids....then later did hijack a different car with two children.  He eventually wrecked the 2nd car.  Etienne then tried to shoot at police officers....but his gun jammed.  He was laced on cocaine during this whole deal. 

He gets a 150 year sentence with no parole.

Etienne served 10 years for armed robbery before being paroled in 1998.  While in prison, he taught himself how to box and eventually signed a multifight deal with Showtime....but retired not too long after Tyson smacked him up.  His final fight was in 2005 against Nicolay Valuev.  He had a career record of 29-4-2 with 20 KOs. 

A career criminal, his lawyers tried to use the "years of drug abuse and boxing has given him brain injuries" defense.  That didn't fly with the jury. 

Here is Clifford Etienne official site | The Black Rhino for more personal info on him [and a nice beat to open the site]. 

Heels Are One Win Away From Series Title


Chad Flack hit a leadoff triple and rumbled home to score the go-ahead run on a passed ball in the eighth inning, leading North Carolina to a 4-3 victory over Oregon State in the opening game of the College World Series championship round Saturday night. The Tar Heels (54-13) need to beat the Beavers (48-16) once more in the best-of-three series for their first national title in baseball.

Dexter Manley Has Brain Surgery



Dexter Manley, the former All-Pro defensive end for the Washington Redskins, underwent 10½ hours of brain surgery Wednesday and, as expected, is experiencing minor, isolated memory loss.

According to his wife, Lydia, Manley was hospitalized June 16 after police found him "disoriented" in northeast Washington. She said a CT scan showed an enlarged colloid cyst that was collecting fluid and causing increased intracranial pressure. Doctors recommended surgery, and Manley, 48, is now resting in the intensive care unit at Georgetown University Hospital.

His prognosis is for a relatively full recovery, although doctors have told his wife that memory loss is a common side effect of the operation. When asked this weekend to recall his jersey number with the Redskins, Manley answered, "7272," and he also confused the names of some of his closer friends.

"I guess that's what the doctors were talking about," Lydia Manley said. "But he was asked where he was born, and he was right, he said, 'Houston.' The nurse said, 'Oh, you're a Longhorn,' and he said, 'Yes.' He's not confused. He's fine; he's blessed. He might be a little off, but not that far off. He's OK."

Manley, who is 6-foot-3 and about 260 pounds, is expected to be hospitalized for at least another week. "I don't feel too good," he said over the telephone. "My head hurts, I'm cold a little bit. When I drink water, I get a little cold. They've been poking me all day. Needles and needles and needles."

Manley, who was banned from the NFL in 1991 for repeated cocaine abuse, had known about his colloid cyst for 20 years. He had collapsed inside a Georgetown department store in April 1986 after an all-night drug spree, and doctors found the cyst after performing a routine CT scan in the emergency room. Surgery, at the time, could have been career-ending, but, according to Lydia, several doctors told Manley that the cyst was only the size of a nickel and that he could continue playing. They recommended a CT scan every six monthsto monitor the cyst's growth, but Manley stopped getting checked in 1994 when he left the Washington area and moved to Houston.

He moved back to Washington 20 months ago to give drug awareness speeches, but recently his health became suspect. According to Lydia Manley, her husband was having repeated headaches, was feeling fatigued while driving and was acting clumsy.

"Well, he doesn't complain," she said, "but he was getting headaches, and he was taking a lot of ibuprofen. He'd buy bottles and about a week later, he'd say to me, 'I need another bottle.' I was like, 'Dexter, what happened to the bottle you had before?' And he'd say, 'Oh, I took that already. I'm done with those.' I asked, 'Why you taking so many?' He said it was from working out. But that's not what it was.

"He's always gotten sleepy, but not usually behind the wheel. But now he was starting to get sleepy behind the wheel, and he'd say a lot, 'I'm going to go get off my feet.' And I'd say, 'You haven't been on your feet. Why you tired?' He'd always feel like he had to get off his feet.

"And he would walk like a little old man sometimes. He'd act like it was a joke, like he was doing it to be funny, but it was probably because his head was in pain. And every now and then, he would knock over things on the table with his hand, and I just thought it was like him being the bull in the china shop. But it was real involuntary. He'd be kind of embarrassed, and he'd say, 'I don't know what happened.' So I think all those things were like the symptoms."

It escalated to the point that Manley appeared "disoriented" just over a week ago, while trying to tell police that his car had been robbed. The officers called for an ambulance, and an ensuing CT scan showed that his original colloid cyst was now the size of a quarter. According to Lydia Manley, her husband was also experiencing obstructive hydrocephalus, which, in layman's terms, is "water on the brain." She said that fluid had been collecting in the cyst, and that the cyst was pressing on one of his ventricles.

Colloid cysts can be hereditary, and Manley's mother, Jewellean, once had surgery herself to remove several brain tumors. Manley, as a result, was outwardly emotional before his own surgery, and made it a point to call his three children, including his son Dexter II, who will be a junior defensive end/linebacker at the University of Oregon this fall.

"He kept saying, 'I don't want to die,' " Lydia Manley said. "But he didn't get emotional until he called his daughter, Dalis. He said, 'Dalis, I have to have brain surgery.' And he said, 'Dalis, I don't want to die.' And he started crying in the emergency room. And that's the only time he got emotional. He wasn't strong at all. He didn't try to be strong at all. But the main thing he said to Dalis was, 'I don't want to die. I don't want to die.' And he didn't die."


Thursday, June 22, 2006

USA Eliminated From World Cup


The United States did what it had to do Thursday morning.

They finally ended the misery.

Team USA were beaten by Ghana, 2-1, to advance Ghana into the Round of 16 and send the Americans home.

This was a tournament where, heading into this game, the Americans had just ONE SHOT ON GOAL.  They leave scoring two on an "own goal" by Italy in a tie last weekend.  They leave as the "whining team" who complained about officials and the like. 

We were bad Americans.  Very bad Americans.  And I'm sure the world is sad that we are leaving.

We should leave, since we stunk up the joint.  Coming in, all we heard about was how great this US team was.  Sure, the group was hard and we shouldn't expect advancement...but we were still good.  We were better than the 2002 team that got to the quarterfinals.  We were supposed to lose a bit here....but I didn't expect us to look so bad.  We finished 0-2-1 and were as unmemorable as, well, you don't think we really are gonna remember any of this happened, eh?

And as much as we, Americans, hate soccer.....we hate losers more.  I mean, we aren't the biggest hockey nation either...but everyone knows about a little event in Lake Placid in 1980.

Again...I am not a soccer fan at all.  But when the World Cup comes along, I do feign some interest.  It passes the time before I go to work and it is the World's Game.  But, with the USA gone....I probably won't go out of my way to watch any of it, except for possibly the Final.

What am I talking about!?!?!  I probably watched a total of 20 minutes of the Americans anyways. 

Maybe I will now, since I know there is some great soccer teams now out there....and Ghana does seem to be a great team to root for. 


Larry Brown Is FINALLY Fired


Man....what shocking news to come out of Manhattan.  Larry Brown, in just his first season into a 5-yr stint with the New York Knicks, was let go by the organization.

Who saw this coming??  Wow.  Amazing.  Interesting.  It happened so quickly that my head is spinning.  I must gather myself to figure out what this all means and what went wrong to make it end so fast.


Truth is...this was done about as badly as any exodus that Mr. Brown has had thus far.  Whether it was his "I suck" whining out of Indiana....or the "I won my title, now let me leave" whining out of Detroit....or the "I can't reach Iverson" whining out of Philly....or "dude, this is the Clippers" whining out of Los Angeles.....this one is the saddest and funniest at the same time.

Brown, as you know, left the Pistons....a team he took to two straight NBA Finals, one ended with a title and the other ended in a 7th go to New York to babysit the worst team in the Eastern Conference.  His crap at the end of last year disrupted Detroit and could be a cause of the team's inability to repeat.  But..New York was his dream job and he was handsomely rewarded for it.


We all know the deal.  The Knicks sucked, he tinkered with his lineups, he clashed with Marbury, they went 23-59 with by far the highest payroll in the NBA, etc.

Waaaaay back in early May....rumors broke that the Knicks were looking to buy out Brown and replace him with Isiah Thomas, the man upstairs.  Despite everyone expecting it....including Brown who called himself a "dead man walking" never happened.  So Brown was still running the team.....conducting draft workouts, doing all the things a coach would be doing after the season has ended and the draft is about to occur.

Then- swoosh!  It is "breaking news" around the sports world....but the story has been told and retold for weeks.  The Knicks sucked, Larry Brown acted like an ol' grump and "doing it the right way" didn't work. 

Now the fork in the road. 

Now, Larry Brown can look for another job.  But there aren't any.  Not real ones.  Denver could open up if George Karl steps down due to personal reasons.  Charlotte's Bernie Bickerstaff is just keeping the seat warm until the team is ready to contend for the playoffs.  But with Michael Jordan now calling the shots, who knows if Brown has a chance to go back to North Carolina for work.  Mike Montgomery is on very thin ice in Golden State that the Warriors job could open up at any time. 

But...would you want Brown???  He ended the last two seasons very badly....and he wasn't happy with the NBA Finals contender and wasn't happy in the largest market with the largest payroll.  How could he be happy anywhere else?

On the other everything sits in Isiah Thomas' lap.  Many feel that he's to blame for all of this.  As President, he dealt for all these players.  He took on these contracts.  He dealt was became the #2 pick in this draft for Eddy Curry, a guy with a heart problem.  It is his mess and now he must clean it up.

If he isn't, well, there is no one left to can but him.  He bought this team....and he's coaching it. 

Good luck New York!