Monday, August 13, 2012

Sportz Assassin's Favorite Will Ferrell Movies

Okay, this isn't really sports related ... but I just wanted to do this.  And since Will Ferrell has made lots of sports-related movies, I guess it is relevant for my blog.

Now, these are his "starring" vehicles and not ones where he was supporting.  I love "Austin Powers", "Old School", "Drowning Mona", "Wedding Crashers", etc, etc.  No, these are the true WILL FERRELL movies.

By the way, I haven't seen The Campaign yet so it isn't included.

1-STEP BROTHERS:  This is one of those movies where I swear they just told Will Ferrell on John C. Reilly the concept and then just let them go.  A lot of times, movies like that don't work.  But when it does, Step Brothers happens.   It is silly but doesn't get too silly where it is stupid.  Ferrell is considered to play a lot of man-child characters.  Well Brennan Huff is a nearly 40-year old man who acts like a child. 

2-THE OTHER GUYS:  My wife and I love this movie.  It isn't the typical man-child movie that Ferrell does.  That may be why this movie hit it right for me.  Ferrell is an accountant for the police department and lives inside his little box.  Still, that allows for Ferrell's comedy to sit under the surface and poke right out.  Whether it is referring to his wife ... played by Eva Mendes ... as "a hobo" or him singing songs in an Irish pub or constantly defending his Prius, he is more of the straight man here but still gets the biggest laughs. 

3-ANCHORMAN:  I know I have this lower than anyone who would make such a list ever would ... but it isn't that I don't love this movie as much as how much I love Step Brothers and The Other Guys.  Ron Burgundy is a legendary character of such ego that Ricky Bobby, Jackie Moon, Chazz Reinhold, George W. Bush or Robert Goulet could ever dream of having.  And the supporting cast was as perfect as you can get.

4-ELF:  Elf is hard to place in a list like this since it isn't a movie I tend to watch until late in the year.  As a Christmas movie, it is awesome.  Is it his funniest movie?  Maybe not, though Buddy the Elf is legendary as well.  It is the Will Ferrell I can show my kids (well, aside from Megamind or Curious George) and I feel good watching it.  It doesn't jump higher than this, but I love watching it. 

5-TALLADEGA NIGHTS:  This is one of those movies that can hit me just right or I can leave it.  There are some really funny parts in here as well as parts that just get bogged down.  To me, Ferrell isn't as funny as everything around him.  John C. Reilly is the best part of this movie with "Walker" and "Texas Ranger" trailing just behind. 

6-SEMI PRO:  I'm not as down on this movie as others have been.  Maybe it is because the 1970s are cool to me.  Maybe it is because the ABA was the backdrop.  It wasn't that bad to me.  It isn't that great either, but it is what it is.

7-BLADES OF GLORY:  The sibling of Semi Pro.  Again, not that bad but could've been better.  I will say that the Will Arnett-Amy Poehler team had me rolling ... and Jon Heder will always be Napoleon Dynamite to me. 

8-KICKING AND SCREAMING:  The title says it all.

9-BEWITCHED:  This was strangely so un-funny.  Why have Will Ferrell in this movie if you won't use him properly?

10-LAND OF THE LOST:  This sucked so bad that I didn't even finish watching it.


These aren't those "Will Ferrell movies" per-se, but movies that he made a difference.

EVERYTHING MUST GO:  Yeah he starred in it, but it doesn't fit what I was trying to do with my list.  He was good in this as a sorta-serious man facing serious personal issues.  And it was pretty good.

OLD SCHOOL:  All hail Frank The Tank.

JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK:  I love Kevin Smith movies (especially the View Askew flicks) but Ferrell brought a different kind of comedy relief in a slapstick comedy.  He ruled the second half of that movie.


And I love his television work ...

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE:  Duh.  He has three greatest hits DVDs and is deserving even more.

EASTBOUND & DOWN:  Ashley Schaeffer was a perfect foil for Kenny Powers.  Coming back for Season 3, Ferrell was spot on. 

THE OBLONGS:  A very talented cast on a very underrated cartoon.  Ferrell plays the armless, legless, pipe smoking father who always has a sunny outlook on life.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

David Stern's Under-23 Rule For USA Basketball IS Dumb

Enjoy today's gold medal matchup between the United States and Spain because NBA commish David Stern and the NBA owners are trying to ruin it.  Stern is proposing an under-23 age limit that would basically end the star power of the NBA going to the Olympics.

The reasoning?  Well, they'll say that the NBA owners are tired of taking the risk of sending their super stars ... aka their most expensive players ... over to the Olympics and getting hurt.  They'll say that the Dream Team era has run its course.  They'll say the NBA teams get nothing out of this.


Since the NBAers started back in 1992, we have seen no major injuries.  In fact, we tend to see players sent to the Olympics come back better for the experience.  Whether it is the atmosphere, the honor or the fact that they are playing alongside other great players whose work ethic and commitment rubs off on them, it makes a difference on everyone.  You can't tell me that being around Kobe Bryant's focus wasn't good for LeBron James.  One of the best examples was Lamar Odom, who seemed to thrive after being part of 2010 FIBA World Championship team.

And that is just the USA's guys.  The foreign players tend to get more confidence after playing in the Olympics.  Tell me that Australia's Patty Mills ... a backup for the Spurs ... won't play better this upcoming season after his blistering Olympic efforts. 

Ahhhh the foreign players.  I know there has been a lot of debate recently about if the 2012 USA team could beat the Dream Team of 1992.  Lost in all the argument is the fact that the opposition is so much better now.  Back in 1992, there were hardly any NBA players on any other country's squad.  Today, the USA will play a Spain team that features five current NBA players ... including All Stars Pau and Marc Gasol.  Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro and Sergio Rodriguez are also NBA players at one time.  Argentina ... the team USA just beat ... has five NBA players. 

The point is that the impact on the game globally is exponential.  And the NBA teams have not only cashed in with those great players developing and coming over to the League, but in the fact that it broke down the door and let tons of marketing opportunities into these other nations. 

Oh ... that is what all this is really about.  Money.  See, the NBA owners don't make one red cent off of sending players to the Olympics.  Again, no red cents directly, but they've made a ton collaterally.  But this new World Cup of Basketball thing that FIBA has cooking up ... well the NBA can really cash in.  The World Cup, the re-branding of the FIBA World Championships, will allow for teams to both cash in on sending their players over as well as allowing all sorts of marketing possibilities for the NBA.  So the NBA wants to keep their stars out of the free Olympics ... like soccer does ... and use them for the World Cup. 

No one else really likes this.  To the other nations, this would make the United States even more dominant in Olympic play since US players are better at 23 than international ones.  Remember back when our college players played in the Olympics that we were getting beat by other nations who had adult professional players on their teams. 

Note: the NBA is proposing a 3 player exception for each country which would allow three guys over the 23-yr limit to participate. 

This won't be in place for the 2016 Games in Rio.  That could be good since that would probably be the end of our current cycle of Olympians.  You can see LeBron, Wade, Dwight Howard, Durant, Paul and Carmelo making that their last run and then the 2020 Games starting this new era.  Maybe that will work out for everyone.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The NEW Los Angeles Lakers

Okay, let's take a minute to look at the 2012-2013 Lakers roster as it stands:


Nash brings leadership, an ability to coach a team on the floor and one of the best jump shots in the NBA.  He played with a bunch of backups in Phoenix last year and had a fine season ... so imagine what he could do with this lineup?  He is an excellent FT shooter and long range shooter which will open up things for the big men in the paint.  He is a mess defensively and won't be able to guard Westbrook, Parker, Paul, Curry, Rubio or virtually any of the starting point guards in the west.  With Kobe off the floor, expect Nash to be on it, giving the Lakers someone who can create a shot for themselves or someone else.


Yeah, he's old in basketball years.  But the addition of Nash and Howard helps him on both ends of the floor.  On offense, Nash will take a lot of the ballhandling duties away from Kobe.  Nash also can create for himself and others (Kobe was the only Laker who could do such a thing over the last few seasons).  During Kobe's rest, Nash can lead the team and should keep the team on track (it has been hit or miss lately).  On defense, Kobe doesn't have the be the lock down defender he used to be (which he isn't as much anymore).  Kobe's scoring will go down from the 27 ppg of last season, but his efficiency should rocket.


World Peace's job description got a whole lot easier.  He needs to spend the bulk of his court time defending one of the opponent's top wings and how to find the open spots behind the three point arc.  I'll bet that MWP will shoot more 3s than 2s this season.  And they all should be wiiiiiide open.  Still, he needs to perform because the Lakers have other options to go to.


I have a feeling Gasol will have a bit of a re-breakout season.  You figure that he spent last summer smarting from the venom of fans cracking on his horrid performance in the 2011 playoffs.  Then in December, he was dealt in the Chris Paul deal ... that eventually got nixed.  For the entire 2011-2012 season, Gasol's name was thrown in virtually every trade rumor -- even bad ones.  Fast forward to today.  He has Spain in the gold medal game against the USA, Steve Nash is there as a perfect pick and pop guy and now Howard is next to him as an elite defender.  Oh, and he's not being traded and has basically re-gained to confidence of the organization.  Again, Nash will use Gasol as a perfect pick and roll/pop guy in a mini offense.  While Howard will want his touches, he won't clog up the lane as much as Bynum did for Gasol.  For a guy who had no fit last year, Gasol is a glove this year.


Howard just made a poor defensive team pretty darn good.  If he could do it for Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Hedo Turkoglu and Ryan Anderson, he'll do fine with Kobe and Metta World Peace.  His importance will be blocked shots and rebounding.  He will also be one of Nash's pick and roll guys who will receive a few alley-oops from the Canadian.  He will have a fraction of the pressure of leading the team as he did in Orlando. 



This is a big, albeit quiet get for the Lakers.  Dude averaged 17 ppg last season and will be asked to do nothing more than be a scorer off the bench.  He can backup up either Gasol or MWP and just worry about filling up the bucket.  He's a great locker room guy who has the respect of everyone in the league.  He's played for coach Mike Brown before, played alongside a star before and even won a Sixth Man award with Dallas several years back.  Plus, if MWP acts up or slumps like he did last season, Jamison could move into the starting lineup.  Most likely he is the man off of a once sad bench. 


Duhon isn't a great player by any means, but he has started over 300 games in the NBA and played in Chicago and New York before ... so L.A. won't be too large for him.  His job will be to play his little minutes backing up Nash and keeping the offense moving.  He's a decent three point shooter (the Lakers have been baaaaad at this and the offense Mike Brown wants to run involves having outlets for Kobe, Nash, Gasol and Howard that can knock down 3s). 


Blake has been a bit of a disappointment in L.A. so this should be a make or break season for him.  He has shown spurts of value (like against the Nuggets last postseason) and then looks like a liability.  He should have an easier go of it this year since he will spend most of his court time as a 2-guard.  He'll be Kobe's backup in a sense in the second team rotation alongside Nash.  I think his offense will be easier to get and he should benefit from not having to handle the ball as much.  His bad defense will get better with Howard ... as I can write that about everyone on this list. 


Hill was a nobody until the end of last season and the playoffs.  Now, the Lakers are counting on him to be the go-to frontcourt backup.  His job will be the same: crash the boards and work hard defensively.  The fact he was scoring at all was icing.  He will probably see most of his court time with Howard out and may even get to start right off the bat while Howard recovers from back surgery. 


Let's put it this way: among Duhon, Blake, Meeks and Ebanks, one or two of these guys will move forward with Brown's trust to be the gunner on this team.  Meeks could lead in that role since he is primarily a 3-point shooter.  That's why he's here.


Ebanks still is unsigned and technically doesn't have a roster spot right now.  But the Lakers like him for his defense and his athleticism.  His court time may be sporatic this season.


He should get more run at the beginning of the season while Howard is recovering from back surgery.  Hill could start at center and Clark backs him up.  From there, Clark will have to hope to emulate Hill and carve a niche out on this team.


The Lakers liked him last year and he could get into that battle for those precious few minutes as a gunner.  Maybe not. 


Hopefully he can make this team and find a good suit guy.  With Nash, Duhon, Blake and Goudelock ahead of him, Morris won't see much of the active roster.


See Morris.  Johnson-Odom was the Big East player of the year and has a lot of toughness ... which Mike Brown loves.  He may see more D-League action than anything.


Mitch Kupchak has really liked Sacre so I think he stays in some capacity.  He may get some early season run with Howard hurt.  Once Howard comes back, I see Sacre as a D-League guy to work on his game.