The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Weakness

Kevin Iole delenda est.

This is a real triumph in the ever-developing field of Just Plain Making Shit Up. For instance:

“there is a large contingent who expects Lashley to be knocking off the best fighters in the world”

O Rly? Who would those people be, precisely? I keep up on the MMA blogs and actually read their comments entirely out of a desire to keep in touch with what the pulse of hardcore fans is, and if Iole were confining himself to saying that those people were frustrated with Lashley he’d be on firm ground. The trouble is, the frustration isn’t that he’s, say, failing to face Fedor or Fabricio Werdum in a month or two; the frustration is that his camp is turning down the likes of Shane Del Rosario. Now I understand why they did that and I don’t personally blame them, but let’s be serious: Del Rosario is not one of the better heavyweights out there right now. Instead, 9 days away from his next fight date Lashley still doesn’t have an opponent confirmed, had his first suggested opponent turned down by the commission for not being a competitive matchup and his second shitcanned by Showtime because one of their execs didn’t want Jimmy Ambriz on their air, and the hot rumor is that he’s going to be facing Wes Sims. You know, the gerbil-looking goofus from the last season of Ultimate Fighter who spent the whole show working his Brutus Beefcake gimmick and getting choked out in the first round by Justin Wren. It’s difficult to see how Lashley is going to develop facing this level of competition, especially when whoever he fights is coming in on such small notice and he himself is getting so little time to train specifics for each fight. All of that is what is bugging people, and it’s largely a legitimate complaint.

And if this wasn’t silly enough, there’s this quote from Blaster in the same article: “If you want to fight the best in the world and Strikeforce has the best heavyweight in the world, wouldn’t it make sense to sign with them?” The case that people are expecting too much out of Lashley may be slightly undermined when he’s using his press exposure on major websites to hype a fight which isn’t happening yet against the best heavyweight in the world. But hey, why let that from stopping you now? It’s more or less par for the course.

January 22, 2010 Posted by | MMA | | 1 Comment

Oh, Do Shut Up

Gotta get this one off my chest:

If I read one more person who says something to the effect of “yes, Brock Lesnar draws more eyeballs to the sport of MMA than anyone else, but he’s bad because he could scare off potential new fans and stop the sport from being regulated”, I’m going to scream. Listen: this is the exact same argument which went on in the gay community (as it does in most minority groups, identity or interest-based, with aspirations to something more) for decades between the people who- speaking REALLY broadly here- wanted to be activists and confront prejudice loudly, and the people who thought the best way to win acceptance was to cancel Pride Week before it scared the straights. It would be a lie to say that time and events have completely vindicated either position; but they have proven that a great deal more was possible more quickly than the conservative elements of the movement believed was the case. And that’s GAY PEOPLE. Ask yourself, which has more historical respect and acceptance in mainstream American society, combat sports or open homosexuality? Which is more famous, Muhammad Ali or Ellen Degeneres? The Stonewall Riots or the Thrilla in Manilla?

The gay rights movement needed and needs both sides the same way MMA needs both Georges St. Pierre and Brock Lesnar, the sportsman and the showman. The people talking about Brock as the doom of the sport sound exactly like the people who used to say that gay marriage was impossible in America in the next hundred years, and half of those people are now married, the poor bastards. Brock is not hurting anything. The obsessive boxing purists are going to die off and largely not be replaced in this country at least; the sport will survive a goofy Brock promo and some snarling if it can survive Tank Abbot’s (speaking of….) talk about a KO giving him an erection, John McCain’s vendetta and the entire Kimbo Slice era; regulation in Ontario and New York will happen, if for no other reason than because in the end the power of the dollar rules. The sports fans who watch Terrel Owens, “Captain Dickhead” Sean Avery, Ron “Malice in the Palace” Artest, Mike Tyson the rapist, Eric “Karate-kicked a fan” Cantona, John “IT WAS OUT” McEnroe, Didier Drogba, “Just Being” Manny Ramirez, A-Roid, Fraud Mayweather, Kobe “Denver hotel room” Bryant, Mark McGuire’s congressional testimony, Michael “The Jordan Rules” Jordan, Ray Lewis, Donte Stallworth and the rest of the menagerie will hardly be scared off by Brock being Brock.

The only counter-argument ever offered is that fans make excuses for sports they follow but not for those which they don’t; left unsaid is how you get fans to follow a sport in the first place without stars like Lesnar who draw new fans because of their personalities- because with due respect to Brock, it’s not like he’s considered by most people to be the best heavyweight, nor does he have the most exciting fights. Without something to get attention you end up as MLS- the most stagnant, going-nowhere league in the country, whose highest rated game this year on cable TV drew 327,000 viewers- or something like a quarter of the people who were willing to pay $50+ to watch UFC100.

And at this point, after 16 years in business, after having already drawn major public attention on several occasions before for good reasons, bad reasons and Brock reasons (when they signed him, and for the Couture fight), whoever’s going to be turned off by MMA is already turned off, and yet somehow that number isn’t large enough to stop UFC buyrates from continuing to rise or to stop CBS from being so entranced by the ratings of B-level MMA that they’re willing to forget about the Kimbo debacle, Ken Shamrock allegedly holding them up for more money and Seth Petruzelli’s “they paid me to stand” comments in order to make a deal with Strikeforce- who don’t have a single star the caliber of Brock! UFC just got on TV in Mexico, on the biggest mainstream network, and drew peak ratings (for Brock’s fight) greater than the ratings on the same day on the same network for a competitive soccer international. They just got their first Chinese TV deal which reaches 80 million homes. They just set their all-time highest buyrate, the biggest ever outside boxing, in all likelihood. They ran a new country for the first time this year- Germany- and enhanced the presence of the sport in Europe. Where, exactly, is there evidence of anything other than strong, internationally-diversified growth for the sport of MMA and the company UFC both in home markets and new markets?

Ultimately this whole pointless and frequently witless debate boils down to a minority of MMA journalists blue-skying nightmare scenarios about what might happen some unspecified period of time in the future when some unspecified portion of the populace decides that Brock is just too rude to be tolerated, although they were actually ok with that whole bleeding-violence-half-naked-men-in-a-cage-punching-people-when-they’re-down thing. It would be uncharitable to say the people who envision this are talking to the voices in their heads, but they’re certainly not talking about any recognizable or identifiable section of humanity, sports fans or otherwise, in this country or others. The lessons as always are: visibility matters, publicity matters, personalities good and bad are the getters of attention, no matter what you’re selling not everyone is going to buy it, and there’s more important things to worry about in life and business than whether you’re scaring the straights. The lessons of history across wildly different circumstances are not exactly ambiguous on this one.

But…don’t let that from stopping you.

July 15, 2009 Posted by | MMA | , | 1 Comment

You Have Got to Be Kidding Me (Pt. 2)

Check it out kids, it’s the Isiah Thomas Memorial Bone-Stupid Trade of the Offseason!*

Arnovitz hits some of the generalities of this pretty well. I’m too amused to think coherently about this, so I’m just going to go with mocking bullet points:

– First off, my condolences again to QRich, a nice guy who tries hard. No one really deserves to play for the Clippers, let alone twice; let’s hope his karma’s better in the next go-round.

– Possessed of an extremely young team full of impressionable young players largely regarded as upstanding citizens like Mike Conley, Rudy Gay, Hasheem Thabeet, Darrell Arthur, OJ Mayo, etc., and needing to maintain every possible positive link with their community in order to ensure continued support for a lousy squad, the Grizzlies trade for Zach Fucking Randolph. Zach Randolph, who burned bridges and got run out of town for the last three teams he played for, two of them in consecutive years. Zach Randolph, who’s been arrested a bunch of times, including outside a strip club and last year for drunk driving. Zack Randolph, renowned for giving perhaps the least effort of any player in the league. Zach Randolph, who’s not even in a contract year, so is neither an expiring deal nor likely to be motivated by the need to earn a new one. Zach Randolph, who got as much publicity as a Clipper can last year for punching a guy during a game and who had previously punched a teammate in practice while he was with Portland. Zach Randolph, responsible for this. Zach Randolph, who I could go on about for days. This is the guy they chose. Has there been any move more representative of the utter historical futility of this inept botch-up of a basketball organization than this one? I vote that this beats out the Pau Gasol trade and even Big Country Bryant Reeves. That guy sucked on his own; Zbo might take five or six guys down with him. I need Bill Simmons to write a column about this, because really no one else can do it justice. It’s not even a basketball move, it’s a fucking social sciences experiment-meets-reality-TV. Real World Memphis, with Zach as the housemate everyone hates. He’s gonna be sticking his dick in the peanut butter and wiping his nose on the drapes by Christmas, metaphorically speaking.

– Be serious now. As a Knicks fan, can there be any more clear sign of how far the team has come than to watch the Grizzle and the Clippers make the same mistakes our team did the last few years? The Knicks won’t make the playoffs next year and they’re still very, very much a work in progress, but it’s damn nice to be able to laugh at other teams for once. A clear sign of separation from that level of team. Tastes like victory, however small.

– I gotta be honest, I don’t really care about either team, but I’d pay $50 right now to be able to watch the Grizzlies practice whenever I wanted next year. Guaranteed it’s better than 90% of the professional comedies on TV.

– Clippers management sucks and they don’t know what they’re doing, but I’ll give them this: at least they were willing to admit they were wrong and make a nothing-for-something trade to get Zbo out of town after one year and the fuck away from Blake Griffin. They’ll still be terrible next year, but there’s a pretty decent chance their win total goes up from 19. Think about that, if it happens: replacing Zbo, a 20-10 guy in his theoretical prime at age 27, with a rookie considered the weakest on-paper #1 overall in a decade, might make the Clips better. Lots of lessons in that one.

– And if that doesn’t work out, with a few injuries the Clips might be the worst team ever, which is always fun to watch if you’re not a fan of that team.

– Memphis management though…what the heck is going on here, then? When they were cutting costs and spending little, I understood that; they’re in a weak market with a young team, no reason to overspend or overcommit before you know what the mature version of your roster may be lacking in a few years. But to move away from that strategy for the sake of Zach Randolph, perhaps the most universally loathed player in the league, defies belief. Why? How can professional people have such a total inability to learn from the mistakes of their peers? This same thing was tried in New York where Zeke got Zbo for pennies on the dollar, and it failed in every possible respect, in the largest media market in the country. So then Zbo gets traded out West, again for pennies on the dollar, to the second largest media market in the country where he again fails catastrophically both on court and off. How much warning do you need? If there were some sort of cost savings for the Grizzlies I could maybe sort of understand it, but they’re taking on MORE MONEY for the sake of ZACH RANDOLPH. I don’t even care what happens from this point, this is hands down the single worst move any NBA team will make this offseason: it brings in a bad player, it costs millions more in cash, it’s hard to get out of (in theory at least; there’s apparently a lot of suckers in this league), it’s likely to piss off and demoralize fans especially the more passionate and better informed ones, and there’s a pretty decent chance that it will be a horrible influence on a young and promising team. Absolutely zero buys.

What on earth is even the theoretical upside? Even if Zbo is a positive influence on a team which he’s probably not (2 year Adj. +/- of -0.65), even if you need a 4 which you probably do, why THIS guy? 3 Shades of Blue just had a post evaluating David Lee and Paul Millsap for the role. Either one might well be gettable given Utah and the Knicks’ cap/tax situations, and either one of them is 3 times the player Zbo is, and not a quarter of the headache. But hey, why wait and try to get someone who’s actually contributed to a winner or has a good statistical profile or is liked by fans and teammates, when you can throw big money at ZACH RANDOLPH. What the shit? YOU ARE SIGNING ZACH RANDOLPH. STOP. If it were ever possible to take a very young team guaranteed to be maturing into higher levels of production and which only won 24 games last year, and make them win fewer games the next season by ADDING a player, this would be the move to do it. Doomed is too nice a word for this one; it leaves too much hope out there. Taking all relevant factors into account, this is one of the very worst personnel moves I have seen in all my 20 years or so as a basketball fan, and with any luck it’ll be a long time before we see anything quite this bad again. What a fucking clown show.

*I know he’s not dead. But his career sure is.

July 2, 2009 Posted by | Other NBA, The NY Knicks | | Leave a comment

…Fuckry.

The NY Times screams in fear of MMA. Let’s examine the stupidity contained within.

– Tendentious language: “blood-soaked”, “vicious” etc. This goes along with its friend, lack of actual description. Together they’re pretty much the hallmarks of an evidence-free screed.

– A positive reference to pro wrestling in the article. Pro wrestling, I would bet $1000, has the highest serious injury and mortality rate for ex-participants below the age of 60 of any sport or pseudo-sport in the world. Referencing that hideous mess of an industry as though it were a positive and MMA a worse danger is pretty clear evidence of the authors’ lack of interest in facts as opposed to preconceptions.

– The title itself. “Disturbing” to who, exactly? Using passive language of this kind in an unsigned editorial is about as dodgy as it gets.

“What they don’t tell you is what is allowed,” Mr. Reilly points out. “Kicking in the head, kneeing in the head, hitting in the head.” Ultimate fighters do not wear helmets or shoes or full, padded boxing gloves.”

Yep, the rules are hidden and impossible to find. I couldn’t find info of that kind anywhere.

Also, let’s unpack this. Kicking in the head is allowed in kickboxing, which is legal in New York. Knees to the head are legal in Muay Thai, which I believe is also legal. “Hitting in the head” is the definition of boxing, which has been legal since forever. Helmets aren’t worn in any of the professional classes of the currently legal fighting disciplines; I have no idea what his point is about shoes- wearing them would seem less barbaric? It’s the sort of random thing seized on by someone with little understanding or willingness to learn about grappling or the practicalities of mixed fighting- ignorant and superficial.

The gloves bit is more interesting. MMA gloves are small and jointed, as they have to be for grappling purposes. I don’t know of relevant studies as to whether this leads to a higher KO rate per punch, but I would bet money that it does. The question is, is this bad (or even all that meaningful)? I would argue no: almost every major boxing tragedy over the years, from Benny Paret to Duk Koo Kim to Levander Johnson, occurred as a result of an extended many-rounds-long beating in the ring, coming after several similar beatings in the recent history of their career. Small gloves will probably result in a higher KO rate per punch, but the shorter length of MMA fights (max 25 mins. vs. max 48 mins. for boxing) plus the smaller gloves and less sustained striking style enforced by the addition of takedowns and grappling, plus the greater chance for an MMA bout to end early without the cause being a strike to the head, result in fighters taking fewer blows per minute and per fight. In MMA some of those strikes are focused elsewhere in the form of the (dreaded shoeless) leg kicks and such as well, which further reduces the amount of brain trauma. MMA isn’t easy for the participants of course, but it seems to be clearly safer overall especially as regards blows to the head in comparison to the currently-legal boxing. But don’t let that from stopping you.

“Ultimate fighting’s supporters also argue that at a time when funds are hard to come by, the state would earn a percentage of the big money from these spectacles, which can cost $200 to almost $400 a ticket.”

None of whom are named of course. Personally, I’d argue that it’s something that consenting adults desire to participate in and which millions of their peers are interested in paying for the privilege of seeing, and to overrule that at the legislative level you had better have something much better to argue with than “this is new and looks scary”. I’m not interested in my already insanely paternalistic state and local government protecting me from my own interests, thank you. Incidentally, I don’t see anyone from the Times trying to ban football after what happened to Willis McGahee last week- should I just assume the same reason, new things are scary? It’s the Times, so the answer is probably yes. I’m almost shocked they even have an online edition, sometimes. The paper of William Kristol and David Brooks, ladies and germs.

– They conclude with the obligitory bit about brain injuries, which fails utterly to distinguish between boxing and MMA in relative risk and reveals the real aim of so many of these articles: smuggling in a ban on all fighting sports through the back door without taking time to evaluate whether the fears they have about those sports are A) justified, B) not better exemplified by other sports, and C) of such crucial importance that they should override the personal choices of participants.

Let’s be honest: this is one of those most insanely stupid articles you’ll read all year, utterly uninformed about the most basic of facts which it took me 10 minutes to dig up with Google, and droolingly ignorant about the history of the topics on which it aspires to opine. If MMA were legal in this state it would be beneath contempt and I’d ignore it, but for now it’s fools like the authors of this who are dictating policy in this state. Personally, I intend to answer this by finally getting off my ass and writing to my representatives, and if you’re in my state, please help out and do so as well. For all the hand-wringing of this piece what it actually exemplifies isn’t concern for its subject, but a particularly ugly form of arrogance and contempt for it in taking the position that participants and fans of MMA somehow need to be saved from their own interest in a sport which the authors can’t even be bothered to understand the most basic rules of, let alone the history and context in which it has developed. I find nothing to respect in that; despite the dangers, I find everything to respect in the dedication and work ethic of competitors in MMA and the respect which their fan base offers them. If the Times editorial staff only sees bloodlust in that, it says a lot more about them than it does about MMA.

Assholes.

January 23, 2009 Posted by | Boxing, MMA | , | Leave a comment

Dear JA Adande

“The data at 82games.com suggest LeBron is better in the clutch, but why is it so much easier to call up the litany of Kobe’s late-game heroics?”

Um, the availability heuristic?

But don’t let that from stopping you? For whatever it’s worth, whenever I write a post using that phrase I do try and send the countervailing evidence to whoever I’m picking on, if it can be done at a reasonable length and without seeming to be deliberately insulting and hostile.

January 20, 2009 Posted by | Other NBA | | Leave a comment

We Get it Already, You Hate the NBA

Ian Thomsen at SI.

I’m going to semi-fisk this absurdity.

“More and more I find myself feeling compelled to write about teenage draft picks who may never pan out, as well as moves that may never happen at the trade deadline this February or in the summer of 2010, while in the meantime, events that are actually happening right now seem to carry less and less importance.”

Compelled by who, precisely? Editors, fans, armed gunmen? We’ve got a league going this year in which there’s three teams which might top 70 wins and there’s been several notable trades as teams try and redesign their rosters and offensive and defensive approaches to contend this year, and this guy’s whining that persons unnamed are forcing him not to write about this? Those events don’t “seem to carry less and less importance”, in his passive(-aggressive) construction, they just don’t interest him as much. A trip around any of the many team-specific NBA blogs out there is a good reminder that no, actually, lots of people care about this season right now. Go to Blogabull, their last game chat produced almost 800 comments for a game between two sub-.500 teams for God’s sake.

“5. Here’s an example. While attending a recent game at an NBA arena, a league personnel scout and I worked through a list of possible new homes for Steve Nash based on two enormous ifs: a collapse by the Suns prior to the February 2009 trade deadline, and a subsequent decision by them to cash out for the 34-year-old Nash now rather than wait until next season, when his contract will be expiring.

We had been talking about the Suns’ difficulties when we naturally began wondering about Nash’s future, and whether he might be made available sooner than later. “He would become the NBA’s Brett Favre,” I declared as we worked our way through the NBA standings in search for possible Nash suitors. Here is what we came up with:”

So basically he sat down with an unnamed scout and shot the shit of his own volition about a potential trade sometime in the future, and this means he’s being “compelled” to do so?

(His list of speculation)

“This is the kind of interesting discussion that drives coverage of the NBA on the Internet. It is speculation, and when engaging in it I try to write it as such. But somewhere along the way speculation often becomes more important than fact.”

Yeah, I remember when Boston really locked down on their speculation in the playoffs last year; that was totally what got them past Cleveland, dude. What Thomsen is actually saying here is “I don’t give a shit about this season or this league”, he just doesn’t have the courage to stand behind that, so the whole thing is written in a passive construction where his opinion is written as something which just seems to happen, somehow. It’s a pretty sad dodge, and basically dishonest. He’s also made a habit of it, which has been noticed before.

“The big story of this NBA season revolves around LeBron’s future. Will he stay in Cleveland, or is he destined to be a Knick? In previous generations, this would be an interesting back-burner plot line. But the way things work today, LeBron In 2010 appears to be all that matters.

Except of course that fans in Toronto or Boston or Houston or LA or Atlanta or Memphis or etc. really just don’t give a shit, do they? They care about their teams, and if you read any of the LeBron-related articles you’ll always find an enormous faction of people who are sick of the speculation and want to talk about this season. Thomsen’s making the mistake of assuming that his perception of that part of the media coverage of this season which he remembers is an accurate reflection of what most people really care about. It’s not, and his assumption is pretty damn arrogant.

“In the meantime, the Cavs (19-3 through Thursday) are contenders to win the championship. Throughout these opening weeks, I’ve assumed that they were a good player short of contending this season, based on the recent NBA Finals struggles of LeBron and Kobe Bryant as the lone stars of their teams. But I am telling you now that I have been wrong.

I can also tell you that the Celtics view Cleveland as their equal, based on the backcourt addition of Williams, the growing cohesion of the Cavs’ roster since the blockbuster trade of last February, and the continued improvement of LeBron himself. The Cavs are outscoring all comers by a league-leading average of 13.4 points, they’re No. 4 in scoring and virtually equal to the Celtics atop the defensive stats, and they’re doing all of this while LeBron plays five fewer minutes per game than last season.

Has my attention on the present been obscured by innuendo about 2010? Maybe. But instead of lathering about the Knicks and LeBron, shouldn’t we be attending to the landscape here and now and ask: Who would be so crazy as to walk away from a team as dominant as the Cavs are today? (And Cleveland is near his hometown at that.)

So why the heck didn’t he write THIS article, which might have been interesting, instead of burying it as a parenthetical inside of a larger moan about the existence of media coverage of the kind which his article exemplifies? Unless the whole thing is some sort of ironic performance art, I really don’t get it.

“3. The draft is the NBA’s black hole. I cover this story because I know the readers eat it up, and nobody can accuse me of not trying as my mock draft last June was relatively accurate. But let’s be honest: The draft is a weak version of what it used to be, when the best talents spent three or four years in college before turning pro. It’s preposterous to imagine a rookie winning the league MVP, as Wes Unseld did in 1968-69.”

As well it should be. No league should be so bereft of talent that a rank amateur can walk in and be the best player in the entire league. The draft today draws talent from all over the world from a much larger pool both domestically and internationally than it did in the ’60’s, and it’s also been streamlined so that only the very best of the best talents are now even considered. Or should we go back to having 7 rounds or so, so GMs can draft their cousins and the ball-boys for laughs?

And here’s the other thing: What, exactly, is the massive moral or practical issue with drafting players at 18 or 19?  Just once, just ONCE, I would love to see one of college basketball’s kept media outlets show me a good rigorous well-designed study indicating that being in the college environment with limited practice time does a better job of dveloping professional-quality basketball players than being in a professional environment with professional coaches and training opportunities does. You lot don’t get to take this as a given; prove it. I fail to see how hanging around the morally corrupt atmosphere of college as effectively something between an indentured servant and an apprentice, taking classes in “communications” and rarely showing up in between accepting under-the-table booster money is preferable to allowing a young man to make a living off his skills.

“Most of the players who enter the draft are too young and unschooled to contribute at the NBA level. They are years away from becoming useful members of this lucrative society, which is why the NBA draft bears more in common with baseball’s draft than with the NFL’s.”

Ah yes, baseball; a dying sport, that. I won’t be uncharitable enough to assume Thomsen is invoking baseball as a way to shield himself from being called a racist; but let’s actually examine his claim. We’ll use PER shorthand, which isn’t really rigorous analysis, but it’ll do. Here’s Hollinger’s PER list for rookies; you will notice there are currently 14 players contributing at an average (15+) level or better this season, and there are others below that threshold- Ryan Anderson, Nicolas Batum, Michael Beasley, etc.- who could all justly be described as important components of their teams, teams which are all over .500. But don’t let that from stopping you.

“The quality of the draft has never been worse, and yet interest is at an all-time high. I don’t understand it.”

O rly?

“As the NBA grew more valuable, and the players negotiated more money for themselves, the league had to come up with new ways to prevent its owners from spending themselves out of existence. The salary cap led to the luxury tax, which has created a system in which the contract of a player is often more important than his talent. It is a system in which trades cannot be manufactured unless salaries of equal value are exchanged (with a few loopholes, of course).Teams used to trade players of similar ability. Now they trade contracts of similar value, or they maneuver those contracts to clear cap space for 2010.”

And if Thomsen has a better idea than the current system, that would also be an interesting column to read. But why write that, it would take research! Better to shoot the shit with a scout and turn your resulting malaise into a week’s work.

As always with almost any system which could be devised, the issue here is more that some NBA GMs are really, really bad, and really bad GMs can screw up any system. Witness the different prognosis for the Knicks under Walsh and Zeke; even understanding that the Knicks are aiming at 2010, there’s no way they can be as bad this year as they were previously, because someone who knows what he’s doing has assembled them. What Thomsen’s missing is the real significance of the system he describes, which has resulted in a model in which teams move cyclically from being useless but having flexibility, to being much better but having reduced flexibility, and back again; the trick is to generate a team good enough to seriously contend before you run out of flexibility to add to your assets, or else to be exceptionally clever at finding additional flexibility. Bad GMs don’t recognize that and squander flexibility, which is money, on assets without a sufficient rate of return; good GMs do not. Under the old wild west system the biggest teams had more flexibility, but they often just squandered that even faster and more uselessly because they were still run by idiots and if anything the sheer amount of flexibility encouraged waste. Does anyone in his right mind think that situation was better? Who mourns the Ted Stepien era?

“”The other part of this equation is the role of the Internet and the nanosecond news cycle. In this virtual world in which we must always be looking ahead to the next big thing, the medium has become the message.”

All the insight you can get in a fortune cookie or freshman year creative writing class.

Let’s be honest: this whole piece is a lazy whine composed of one part projection of the author’s opinions onto everyone else, one part lazy spinning of an offhand conversation into an entire article, and one part potted half-ass pseudo-philosophy. If you read Thomsen long enough you begin to get the sense that he just plain hates the NBA- every one of his articles is either this sort of amorphous nothing, or else a whine about “lost arts” or “the skills players used to have”, all of which conveniently go unnamed. He mourns the days when players “knew their role”, coaches were gods, money was rarely spoken of, and everyone agreed with him. It’s pretty sad stuff, and I wouldn’t care, except that in writing for SI he’s got a major platform for his garbage. I’m a boxing fan; I’ve watched what constant unjustified gloom-and-doom coverage and propagation of stereotypes of boxing did to that sport, and I don’t ever want to see it done to basketball by people like Ian Thomsen.

Now excuse me, I actually give a shit about this season, so I’m going to go watch one of my teams. C’mon you Nets.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Other NBA, The NY Knicks | , | 1 Comment

Evidence Fail

“But is confidence really the issue, or is Yi’s cultural upbringing what’s keeping him down? As good as Yao Ming is, he still refuses to dominate. He still thinks dunking too much makes the competition look bad and he’s too quick to defer to his teammates. It’s becoming more and more likely that Yao will forever be a complementary player – dominant at times, but never consistently the leader of the team.”

– Bill  Ingram, Hoopsworld

Yao shoves some geek for dunking on him
Yao dunks on Q Rich, stares him down
Yao dunks on Ben Wallace’s head
Yao hits shot, yells “you try to fucking stop me!”
Yao yells “FUCK!” on the bench

Yao’s career PER: 23.1

Yao WP48: 0.222 (average is 0.100, McGrady is 0.142)

Yao is currently 7th in the league in adj. +/-, McGrady is a net negative (which will change, but for now…)

Everybody say it with me:

!!!—But Don’t Let That From Stopping You!—!!!

And the bit about his culture… as though Yao and Yi were from the exact same cultural background and place in their lives! Yao’s 28 and from Shanghai, a city of 20 million people in the metropolitan area and one of China’s major cultural and economic centers; he’s an established professional who’s spent his whole NBA career with one team. Yi is 23 or 21, from Heshan in Guangdong (a different province), which as near as I can find has a population of about 360,000 and is noted mostly for furniture manufacture. He’s already been traded in his career from tiny frozen Milwaukee to the New York metro area. Hell, the two of them so far as I can tell even grew up speaking different dialects or languages- Mandarin and Cantonese. It’s almost like asserting that a 21 year old from Flint, Michigan and a 28 year old from London, England share a cultural background- true only in the broadest sense.

And let’s be honest here: there’s a million rookies and second year players out there who don’t show good aggressiveness. What does culture have to do with that? Was Marcus Williams too Chinese when he was in town? You can argue about Yao not being dominant although I don’t buy it for a second, but the “cultural” stuff is, frankly, horseshit. There’s a lot more that’s gone into the makeup of each of these men than “oh, he’s Chinese, that explains it.”

Hat tip: NetsDaily

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Other NBA, The Nets | , , | Leave a comment

Stats Fail

JA Adande chat question:

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Cotwright in Los Angeled [via mobile]: It seems to me that a lot is being made of the Lakers”much improved Defense” but it seems to me that they are still to soft. What’s your take?

SportsNation J.A. Adande: (3:56 PM ET ) They still give up 50 point halves and 100-point games too easily. I think they relax a little because they know their offense is so good it can bail them out. They don’t come into games thinking they have to win it on defense.

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LA Lakers, this year: 3rd fastest pace (98.7), 2nd best defensive efficiency (97.3).

But don’t let that from stopping you.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | Other NBA | | Leave a comment