Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The FTT Movie Review: Phantom Punch

I have an odd relationship with boxing. I don't generally watch it, didn't really grow up with it, and for the most part, think that it's something that a better society wouldn't have. Especially with the growing horror that is the concussion trends in the NFL, having this exist is just sort of unconscionable. I can easily imagine a world without it, the same way that people in the 19th century could imagine a world without slavery, or those in the middle part of the 20th could imagine a world without constant cigarette smoking and mandatory hat wearing.

And yet, I feel pity for boxing fans, simply because they may be the most underserved sports fans in America. You think you have to hold your nose when you spend money on MLB, NFL or NBA? It's nothing compared to the felons, reprobates and out and out human scum that surround the ring. If you love this sport, you pay through the nose, see a handful of good fights a year, and know that there's a really strong likelihood that the new talent won't be as good as the old, since the sport no longer gets the best athletes.

There's one other thing to consider, which is this... it lends itself to the most cinematic storytelling. Boxing doesn't have teams, per se, and for the most part, luck also doesn't play into it. Every fighter knows that the end is coming, and could happen at any second in the ring. There's a certain tension and poignancy to it, really. It's hard to make a truly bad movie about boxing.

Which leads me to this recent movie, which I spun in a sick haze last night, to try to distract myself from a debilitating stomach virus. It stars Ving Rhames as Sonny Liston, who the history-challenged don't remember as a controversial, Tyson-esque heavyweight champion of the world. Liston learns boxing in prison, rises through the ranks to defeat the well-respected Floyd Patterson, then eventually loses twice with controversy to then Cassius Clay. Liston fights on for a few years after that, and is eventually found dead in his Las Vegas home of a fishy drug overdose. Considering that Liston was involved with all sort of organized crime for his entire career, and that he had a lifelong fear of needles, it's a pretty fair bet to say he was murdered for not throwing a fight.

Liston's career was basically a constant downer of wasted potential, virulent racism, police corruption, unmitigated hostility and failed character. In the history books, he's basically remembered as Tyson 1.0... and well, there's a great tragic story here. But just as in life, Liston is undercut by circumstances. Rhames is a fine actor, but he's pushing 50 when he made this, and the film makers just can't get past the lumbering slowness in the fight scenes; you never really get the sense *why* Liston was so devastating on offense. The director, Robert Townsend, doesn't bother trying to make Rhames seem a day younger or older in all of his scenes, despite the movie covering something like 15 years of Liston's life. He also goes for a cliche fade to black and white cut to end scenes, which starts off as a cliche and gets worse after a couple of dozen uses. The clearly Canadian manner of filming, and the budget-inspired decision to make Clay a non-speaking part -- probably the first time in cinematic history that anyone chose to not let Muhammad Ali speak -- also rankles.

And yet, there's still something here, just because the central story is that powerful. Liston comes from nothing to be the most known and hated man in America, all while dreaming of the moment in which he will finally be over the bleakness of his upbringing and situation. It also doesn't hurt that Stacey Dash, Nicholas Turturro and Bridgette Wilson nail their roles as Liston's wife, manager, and mistress. Townshend wisely doesn't make ironclad dictates as to exactly what happened in the two Clay fights, whether or not Liston was a rapist, and exactly how the man dies. That makes the whole thing watchable, even if Townsend leaves a lot on the table, and skirts around the central mysteries of the man's life... to wit, did he throw either Clay fight, and if so, why?

Finally, there's this: just like Tyson, Liston really doesn't give the world any great fights to remember him by. There are any number of moments of barbaric power. But when faced with real adversity in the ring, both men cheat; Liston blinds Ali with something from his gloves, then refuses to take the ring with a supposed injury; Tyson bites Evander Holyfield. And that, really, is why I've always been suspicious of people who think of Tyson as their favorite fighter, just as I'd question anyone who really wants to defend Liston's legacy.

Because when these guys are your favorites, you really aren't there for the fight. You are there for the injury. And Sonny Liston was nothing, in the final analysis, but a world of hurt.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top 10 reasons why Ced Benson got arrested (again)

Former University of Texas football star Cedric Benson, now an NFL running back, was charged Tuesday with assaulting a downtown Austin bar employee last month.

Although lawyers for the 27-year-old Cincinnati Bengals player said their client has his own version of events, police said Benson was involved in a fight at Annie's West at 706 W. Sixth St., and was being escorted off the property when he punched the worker... Benson faces up to a year in jail if convicted of assault with injury, a Class A misdemeanor. - Austin Statesman
10) He's an every-other year criminal

9) Couldn't stand the pressure of being a highly rated fantasy RB

8) Shockingly, wealthy young black men have trouble staying away from the law in Texas

7) Just his own way to pay tribute to the memory of Chris Henry

6) Was assured that the person he is accused of assaulting was a nobody

5) Just a tragic misunderstanding of what exactly constitutes an autograph

4) Someone on the Bengals had to break the non-incarceration streak

3) Wanted to remind everyone why Thomas Jones is still the better guy to have around

2) Could not handle the overwhelming success of leading the Bengals to a first-round home playoff loss

1) Something about leopards, spots, alcohol and idiocy

Top 10 reasons why Kyle Boller is marrying Carrie Prejean

(And if you don't know who these people are... third-rate back-up NFL QB who is on his third team in Oakland, and the Red State hairdo who made headlines by coming out against gay marriage as a pageant contestant.)

10) He's got love for hacky bloggers who are using fourth-rate tabloid gossip fodder as a way to fill the blog hole during the Dead Time (Thanks, Kyle!)

9) Fairly sure that he can't overthrow those, but willing to try

8) The pre-nup includes a mandatory reality show

7) She makes for a mighty convincing beard

6) Liked her hustle and timing on that sex tape

5) She doesn't care that he's a laughingstock

4) Like many well-paid white guys who depend on black people to protect their well-being, wants to marry Republican

3) Absolutely certain that he'll remain the smart one in the relationship

2) After what Ray Lewis did to him in the showers in Baltimore, just wants to be with anyone that makes him feel pretty

1) The kids are going to have incredible physical gifts, unrealistic expectations, unresolved rage issues and enough money to change identities at age 18

Top 10 pro football off-season takeaways

10) Despite the best efforts of that nice Mr. Dungy, Bad Things continue to happen around Michael Vick

9) The Chris Henry autopsy showed that he died with brain damage, proving that you can damage even the things that you don't use very often

8) The Panthers' Steve Smith discovered that you can get seriously hurt playing flag football, and even better, you can get out of training camps and the pre-season

7) DeSean Jackson's contract extension has made no progress, despite the presence of the completely modest, professional and inconspicuous agent Drew Rosenhaus

6) Jake Delhomme earned the starting nod in Cleveland, and will be paid a combined $20 million between the Panthers and Browns, proving that opportunities in life can be abundant indeed

5) LaDanian Tomlinson got a Jets tattoo, which totally proves that he and the Jets are going steady

4) Steelers RT Willie Colon suffered a season-ending injury, which just means you should push Byron Leftwich up in your fantasy football rankings, since he'll now have to scramble for 1,000 yards, instead of, well, 10

3) Lawrence Taylor was indicted on charges of rape against a 16-year-old girl, costing him the goodwill of well over a dozen of his fans

2) The UFL expanded by two teams, giving the league two more markets to not draw or matter

1) Albert Haynesworth became the favorite Redskin of all Redskin haters

Monday, June 28, 2010

Top 10 reasons why FIFA won't use instant replay at the World Cup

10) When something happens 2.2 times a game on average, and decides the happiness or misery of hundreds of millions, taking a few extra minutes just isn't that important

9) Don't want to undermine the confidence of some of the very worst zebras in the history of sport

8) By censoring in-stadium highlight videos, they hope to prompt some old-school rioting, rather than all that damned vuvuzela tooting

7) Once they start reviewing for goals, it's a slippery slope towards also reviewing for penalties, red and yellow cards, and the countless dives and fake flops that are the soul of the sport

6) Concerned about an unfair standard between games involving South American countries, and the games involving also-rans

5) Want to be just as successful as the BCS system in NCAA football in provoking free controversy / PR

4) Just don't trust ESPN to show non-doctored replays that let high-ratings First World teams go through

3) Refuse to allow anything as boring as an instant replay review in their game

2) By allowing random chance in the form of colossally incompetent officiating into the game, teaches us all a valuable lesson about how caring too much about the outcome of a game is unwise

1) They are unspeakably cheap, stupid, short-sighted and pig-headed, and that's some of their better qualities

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Routines

If you come here for sports and sports only, move on: this one's going to be that 1 out of 20 that's got nothing to do with that. Mostly because, well, we are well into the Dead Zone of Sports, even with the welcome infusion of World Cup action.

Instead, I'm going to post the first of my two stand up routines, because some of you have been interested. So, well, here goes. Feel free to tell me not to quit the day job, or any job...

* * * * *

Don't worry, full-sized comedians are on the way.

People say to me, "Dave, what's it like to be so short?" Well, OK, they don't, because that's just a crazy question to ask someone. You don't ask people what it's like to be tall or fat or skinny or white or black or afflicted with a murderous rage towards everyone who is over 5 foot 3, right?

No, of course not.

Anyway, the big issues with being my height is the defensiveness, and the coping mechanisms, and the defensive coping lies about how being short means it's totally out of proportion.

I'm talking, of course, about earning power. But it could be worse. I could be Not White.

It's fine, though, because my wife is one critical inch shorter than me, with shorter arms, so I get to be The Tall Person in my house. So long as I can be the Tall Person, it's all good.

I had a girlfriend who was taller than me once, and her posture got worse for me. It was sweet of her. But I knew the relationship wasn't going to work out when she wouldn't let me wear her stilettos.

Anyway, I get to be the tall person at least until the kids grow... and they only do that if you feed them. My wife's with me on this, since she doesn't want to be anything less than the Second Ranked Tallest Person. We don't see it as child abuse; more like we're breeding Shetland Humans. You can't overfeed 'em. Weakens the stock.

And seriously, where the hell is Shetland? I want to go and spend a week reaching their tallest cabinets, dunk a basketball a few million times, and act all patronizing to everyone I meet. "Oh, how do you manage at your height? It's like you are little children. Here, let me use my superpowers to get that jar for you. Telescoping arm, go!"

I actually enjoy being my height, for one simple reason: I ride the subway every day. Which means I get to see all of you tall people pay for your poor upbringing and defective DNA. "Aw, too bad. Not enough leg room for you, Stretch? That's a shame. Too bad you didn't have the willpower to just say no to your pituitary gland, and remain shrunken and ratlike." That lack of self-discipline, it'll cost ya.

But I didn't just want to talk about height here. No, I'm up here to honor my father, who died a few months ago.

He was a short, drunk, crazy ratlike man who abandoned his kids.

Show of hands -- anyone here have a dad that was drunk, crazy, or gone? Good, none of you. Having a drunk, crazy or gone father makes me unique among people doing stand-up comedy.

Anyway, I'm convinced that my father's dying wish was for me to do stand up. It's right there in the will. OK, well, there wasn't so much a will as there was a life insurance policy. Made out to a pole dancer.

No, seriously. The man had a policy for three grand made out to some dancer; nothing for anyone else. Now, I'm not sure where you get a life insurance policy that pays off three grand. Maybe in an arcade claw machine, or at the dog track. He might have gotten it with Camel Bucks, I don't know.

Now, I know this all sounds bad. But I look at this with *pride*. My father thought ahead. I mean, I'm betting that he didn't have to tip *at all* for at least six months. Think about how much he pulled in from that policy. Think of the shining example he's set. The idea that he's given many of you. And how many strippers and strip club owners could be doing great volunteer work down at the senior center.

Anyway, I can see him in my mind's eye, enjoying his last days on earth, overcoming the pain to pull out the paperwork and point to his junk. This set's for you, Dad. We made it!

Plus, there's the fun of imagining that poor girl trying to cash that puppy. "Sinammon with an S? I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to see some ID here..."

Besides, what choice do I have, but to look back with pride? If I've learned anything so far, it's that you can't get bitter. Being bitter will take years off your life. Those years will come off the end, when you wake up with waves of pain, then medicate yourself to the point of dementia, slowly losing all traces of dignity as you fail to control body systems that you've mastered your entire life, settling for a lower and lower standard of living each day while just hoping for some magic pill or technology to put off the inevitable, all the while knowing that it won't come. But, still. You can't get bitter.

Besides, checking out early just means you miss out on stuff. Just recently, my wife and I bought a new hybrid car. And the fun thing about the car isn't so much the technology that allows you to get more miles per gallon. It's the little displays that tell you when you are driving the right way, and when you are salting the earth with your urine, which is going directly into the eyes of a baby panda. It's a complicated display, but there it is, right on the dashboard.

So when you drive the car, or at least when I do because I seek approval from strangers and strange computers, you hump that mileage gauge for all that you are worth. When I'm driving that car, you could put an egg between my foot and the accelerator, or as I like to call it, The Regrettably Necessary Pedal That Overcomes Friction, and I'd never break it. Besides, why would you want to break a poor, helpless, defenseless egg?

I also like that the car is really quiet. Helps me with my drive-bys. I only use recycled bullets, of course.

It's not that I drive slow; it's that I drive to Save The Planet. So, stop signs? The gateway traffic signal to global warming. Red lights? A tool of the oil companies. Highway off ramps that are posted for 25 when I've got my dearly won 55 miles per hour of momentum happening? Purely suggestive. I might crash into you, but when it happens, I'm going to be getting over 100 miles to the gallon. So I think we can agree who's at fault for the accident.

I also enjoy the fact that the car will also rat you out if you drive in an irresponsible manner, with a trip log of the previous drives. So just in case you haven't found enough things to argue about, technology has given us the ability to criticize people's driving retroactively. It's helped my marriage loads.

I shouldn't be so hard on my wife's driving, though. I mean, she can't do any better, given how angry, defensive and short she is, really. Plus, she's my getaway driver on the drive bys. We have a lot of people to kill.

Anyway, thanks, you've been fun.

* * * * *

Hey, folks. Before I get into things tonight, I want to address the obvious. I know that, just by looking at me, you can tell... there's a man who's had some threeways. Without even paying for it. Much. And well, I can not tell a lie, unless it leads to being in a threeway. And since so many guys seemingly want the experience, I thought I'd share the knowledge. It's just my way to give back to the community.

Please understand that you don't get involved in one of these if you aren't, well, *loose*. Or sober. Have a good time, but you know... wear two condoms. You can do that. Or six. Don't worry, you won't notice them, since you'll be in a threesome.

Now, if you really want one of these to happen, you've got to start hanging out with actual bisexual women. I can not recommend this highly enough. If a woman is going to share you with another woman -- what, there are other kinds of threeways? Inconceivable! -- do not expect her to do it out of the kindness of her heart. There's got to be something in it for her. Along with the drugs and liquor, and maybe cash.

Where, you may ask, do you find such folks? Well, I found mine at Women's Colleges -- never, ever Girls' Schools, that will get you nothing -- but it does require a good six to nine months of patience. Stay calm long enough, nod thoughtfully at enough poetry during first and second semesters, don't talk very often, and you'll eventually fool them into thinking you are harmless. Harmless, but with a penis!

Next, you have to know what you are looking for. Sentient. Biped. Mammal. Vertebrae. I also insisted on conscious and alive, but your mileage may vary. I don't mean to judge. And if you really want to be able to make these situations work for you, it really helps to be creative. Many people wouldn't think to use the Make A Wish foundation for pussy. I'm just saying.

But the truly tricky thing about threeways is that if it actually goes well, the same-old in-out just isn't going to cut it for you. You're going to have to up the ante just to get by. Battery cables, plastic bags, nitrous, marriage... it just gets goddamn complicated. Either that, or take Age. Shows you how crazy I was... I took Age. The first time was awesome. I felt confident, experienced, cool, stronger. It helped me with the ladies, and made everything just seem better. And then I just couldn't stop. Every minute of every day, I kept jamming that stuff right into my veins. Sometimes, me and my friends would hang out and we'd all get really, really old. But you have to know that it's going to kill you in the long run. And it's just not worth it.

Anyway, if you don't have the willpower to just say no to Age, do not go to the doctor. A year ago, I had repeat episodes of what I like to call Meal Abortions. The Indians call it maize. Anyway, I was concerned, so I went to my HMO. Which was another mistake. HMOs do not exist to make you better. They exist to prevent you from suing them when you don't. Since, well, Age prevents you from really getting over anything. Cheery, no?

So the first words out of my doctor's mouth were, "Does your family have any occurrences of... STOMACH CANCER???"

Um, before you said that? No, not a whit. But now? Fuck, I think they all died of it. Actually, by you saying it, I think you just gave it to me. I can feel it. Oh God, I can feel it...

"We also can not rule out the possibility of... HEPATITIS."

Holy crap, can I get the stomach cancer back? There are people I do not want to call about this. Dying's one thing, but talking to my exes and telling them that I've given them Dirty Needle Love? C'mon, Doc, give me the stomach cancer again. I'll be your friend.

Anyway, after six months of progressively more invasive procedures that I'm pretty sure were done as a practical joke, it turned out to be just a hernia and gallstones. Classic signs of Age Abuse. Now, I think I'm going to die from Age, probably within six months. Which means it's Threeway Time again...

But since I've, you know, been there and done them, I figure it's time to develop a gambling problem. Anyone here play poker? I'm looking for a game. I'll also take any mugger. It's faster, and I'll feel better about myself afterwards.

Of course, there's also playing online. Anyone here do that? Of course not; if you did, you wouldn't be here. You'd be in front of your computer bitching if you were losing, or cackling like a Bond supervillain if you were winning, and generally behaving with the class and decorum of a 12-year-old who just learned how to masturbate, and wants us to see his technique. Ooh, lookie what I can do! With a computer and just one hand!

And of course, you would not be doing it for money, because That Would Be Illegal. Me, I just play offline. In casinos. While paying my fair share of income tax on all wins -- as if -- and losses.

I also tithe.

Poker's great, because it combines all of the addiction quality of gambling with the fun of math. Yay, math! Then you get to combine it with legalized fraud, and top it off by giving a big advantage to people who have more money than you. It's just like junior high school for me. And high school. And college. And life.

The real reason people play poker is to enjoy the suffering of others. I'm convinced of this, of course, because everyone else at the table just seems to be having such a great time when I'm around.

Of course, there is also the people you meet. Tattoos, body odor, missing appendages, yellow teeth, receding hairlines, scars... and those are the guys. It's just like an open mic! Or the people you can have threesomes with.

And with that... thanks for your time. Don't Do Age.

Top 10 MLB Takeaways of the Week

10) Jamie Moyer earned his ninth win of the year, proving that he's just as good as that Halladay guy

9) Carlos Zambrano's latest mind-blowing freakout earned him a suspension, a demotion to the bullpen if and when he returns, and the first truly entertaining Cubs' highlight of the year

8) Evan Longoria and BJ Upton got into each other, which should help to speed along the Desmond Jennings Era in Tampa

7) Edwin Jackson had 149 pitches and eight walks in a no-hitter that caused pitch count Nazis to file an unfair working conditions lawsuit

5) The Phillies won 2 out of 3 games against Toronto as the "away" team due to the predictable riots of the G20 summit, which could lead to historically insensitive puling from Brave and Met Fan later

4) The White Sox used their largest winning streak in 49 years to get back into the AL Central race, which is to say they've been fooled by two good weeks into ignoring their actual talent level

3) Jose Guillen's hitting streak reached 21 games, proving that such things get reported, even if they happen in Kansas City

2) Hanley Ramirez said he would miss fired manager Fredi Gonzalez, proving that he can also lie at an All-Star level

1) Umpire Gary Cederstrom admited that he blew a game-tying call on the Tigers, giving the greater Detroit area its first good reason to be depressed in minutes

Top 10 World Cup Takeaways

10) Once again, it's been shown that the Germans always defeat the Brits without U.S. interference

9) Diego Maradona is now 4-0 as Argentina's manager, which means we're just three wins and two weeks away from him running naked in the streets, and forever crushing the idea that who coaches the team is important

8) So far, the only thing more predictable than vuvuzelas is that the refs will be terrible

7) Alexei Lalas still sounds on the verge of tears a day after the U.S. loss

6) For the fourth straight World Cup, there were no positive tests for doping, which proves that the sport is un-American

5) Everyone hates the "Jabulani" ball, which is said to be unpredictable, too prone to flight, and totally unfair, seeing how only one side can use it at a time

4) Since many of the games are being played at altitude, the players are still adjusting on how to dive and flop

3) The South American countries are dominating the tournament, surprising, um, no one

2) Nearly 15 million people watched the US lose to Ghana, which sounds impressive until you realize that they are still sucking the wind of the U.S. women's team win over China in 1999

1) Many Americans are calling for the head of U.S. coach Bob Bradley, because our history of dominance of this sport insists that nothing short of a championship is good enough

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Top 13 takeaways from the US World Cup Loss

13) The hardest crying will be from ESPN and ABC, who just saw their ratings for the rest of the tournament go into the toilet

12) All of the U.S. fans will feel better if Ghana goes on to beat those Uruguayan bastards

11) If Ghana does this again, we're just going to have to invade

10) Ricardo Clark might not be able to... well, actually, no one in the US will remember that it was his giveaway that led to Ghana's first half goal

9) Landon Donovan's marriage is said to be back on, which is a damn shame, seeing how so many women in America want to have Consolation Sex with him

8) In the future, maybe Benny Feilhaber can play the whole game, seeing how he made the whole team better, and was born in Brazil

7) The world now knows that the U.S. can play this game, but they do not know that they can defend in it, or prevent goals in early minutes

6) Fans in the U.S. will take the better part of an afternoon to get over this

5) The U.S. has never, it needs to be said, scored on a corner kick

4) Finally, we can stop eating all of these orange slices and Capri-Sun

3) The game united the country... into remembering just how much we hate to watch losers

2) As much as a U.S. fan might be disappointed, at least they aren't French or Italian

1) Now that the U.S. is out, we can go back to not caring about this game

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Top 10 reasons why Italy failed at the World Cup

10) Gambling interests made them an offer they couldn't refuse

9) Just couldn't handle the Paraguay / Slovakia / New Zealand Group Of Very Unlikely Death

8) Figured that no one would notice them flaming out, what with the French and all

7) Marcello Lippi's decision to leave home talented but sketchy talent like Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano not exactly in keeping with the nation's, um, priorities

6) Southern players convinced that Northern players aren't really Italian; Northern players convinced that Southern players aren't really awake

5) Not that the Italians are old, but the entire backline played the game with oranges in their mouths

4) Team just couldn't get comfortable, playing their games in a country with rampant corruption, political instability and an unstable economy

3) Playmaker Andrea Pirlo wasn't healthy enough to play the whole game against Slovakia, or manly enough to overcome being named Andrea

2) Just didn't bring their flopping "A" game

1) Entire team failed to avoid mother's insistence to-a eat-a something, you-a so-a skinny

Top 10 reasons to hate Ghana

Next up for the US World Cup team in their quest to ruin the dreams of African nations: Ghana. Here are your top 10 reasons to hate on a country that roughly 1 out of 100 Americans can find on a map, labelled or unlabeled...

10) When they made first contact with Portugese traders in the 15th century, they taught them how to flop for calls

9) They are the world's second largest producer of cocoa, but never serve it hot or with marshmallows

8) It took them until 1957 to achieve independence from the British, which means that they are 180 years dumber than Americans

7) There are just under 24 million Ghanaians, all of whom drive cabs in Manhattan

6) Before colonial Europeans messed with them, they were better known as The Empire of Ashanti, which is just an infinitely cooler name than freaking Ghana

5) If you want to know the truth, they are really all just Nigerian immigrants

4) As the second-least failed state in Africa, they give an inferiority complex to everyone else

3) While the official language is English, most Ghanaians speak more than one language, which means they are totally doing that talk behind your back in front of you thing

2) The team's nickname is The Black Stars, which would be impossible to see at night and is totally, totally racist

1) As the sole remaining African nation left in the World Cup, they are the last thing standing in the way of a vuvuzela-free tournament

Top 20 NBA Draft Takeaways

20) Wesley Johnson wore mockable pants to the draft, which means he will be a bust

19) If HDTV can't stop Stu Scott's broadcasting career, nothing can

18) Try as he may, Jay Bilas just can't touch Mel Kiper Jr. for odiousness

17) It just seems cruel to hold this thing in the Knicks' arena after Isiah Thomas traded every first round pick from now until 2040

16) Anyone who is still paying attention to this thing in the second round who isn't paid to do so, or related to a draft pick, needs serious counseling

15) One of these years, the Best Available White American Player may actually be someone that people actually are excited about having on their team... but Utah's Gordon Hayward ain't the guy

14) The Clippers drafted a guy (Al-Farouq Aminu) with a name that their theoretical fans won't learn how to pronounce before he suffers a season-ending injury

13) Rasheed Wallace's retirement was announced during the Draft, leading every player in attendance to give minimal effort and take a technical foul in remembrance

12) Now that the Kings have noted insane person DeMarcus Cousins to go with talented ballhog Tyreke Evans, they'll become the most watchable 30-win team ever

11) I don't want to live in a world where NBA draft picks wear suits that look like they'd be worn by sane human beings

10) Thanks to the influence of the World Wide Lemur and Blogfrica, every draft is now the best or worst ever

9) The next five years of Ivan Drago references to the Nets new Russian owner will just be a Laff Riot

8) The people who make mock drafts for this thing are unspeakable no-life losers, but they still can look down on...

7) The people who pay actual money to read those super-insidery mock drafts, which are, of course, useless the second the actual draft begins

6) When you consider just how many people are convinced that they could do a better job than the GM of their local team, you have to wonder if fantasy sports should be outlawed (yes)

5) Anyone who watches this is just, on some level, praying that an analyst will snap and say "My God, what happened to my life?"

4) Derrick Favors will totally turn the Nets around by giving them a guy who sounds like he took a short bus to the draft

3) Evan Turner will totally turn the Sixers around by giving them a multi-category swingman

2) John Wall will totally turn the Wizards around by giving them a scoring first, defense never point guard

1) The draft hasn't been the same since the departure of Stephen A. Smith, and more importantly, the Stephen A. Smith Heckling Society of Gentlemen

Top 10 reasons why Phil Jackson is leaning towards retirement

10) Just plain ran out of ring-less fingers

9) In the new economy of the NBA, might have to take a paycut from monumentally overpaid to ludicrously overpaid

8) There's only so much of Adam Morrison that you can look at before you lose the will to work

7) Ron Artest keeps making him say "Bensonhurst"

6) If he doesn't "retire", he can't arrange to coach LeBron James in Chicago, take the Mad Russian's insane money in New Jersey, or go to Boston just to make Celtic Fan's head explode

5) Just trying to get in touch with the new Favrian America, where everyone is supposed to be enthralled by your employment plans

4) Now that he's passed Red Auerbach for titles, finally feels good enough about himself to relax

3) Still bent at the World Wide Lemur for televising his Game Five huddle disparagement of the Celtics' season-long performance in the fourth quarter

2) Knows that the whole thing is coming down in flames as soon as Andrew Bynum's knee explodes

1) Going out on top beats going out any other way

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Top 10 benefits of the US moving on in the World Cup

10) We get to watch all of the people who claim to love America but hate soccer twist in the wind

9) It led Algeria's Rafik Saifi to slap a female reporter, then get slapped back by the same reporter, leading to him writhing on the ground like he'd been shot

8) Buys us at least three more days of not having to watch baseball, the NBA draft, or the Summer of LeBron

7) Landon Donovan now has the confidence and joy necessary to inspire the nation to clean up the gulf, lower unemployment and lose 20 pounds

6) Provides the nation's beleaguered soccer nerds with yet another Tipping Point that isn't, cutting down on the suicide rate among annoying third-tier athletes

5) Allows us to finally move Ghana up into the Axis of Evil, and have they ever been asking for it

4) Has to, on some level, cut down recruiting for Al Qaedi

3) Prevented monumental levels of whining about the disallowed "offsides" goals against Slovenia and Algeria

2) Eliminated another African nation from the World Cup, which will hopefully be interpreted as just what happens when you use vuvuzelas

1) We got to see a last-minute miracle goal to advance, and if you don't like that, regardless of the sport, you are a sad human being

Top 10 reasons to hate Algeria

With the U.S. most likely needing a win against Algeria to advance to the second round of the World Cup, animosity towards the Desert Foxes is on the rise. Feel free to hate on them for the following reasons...

10) They haven't made a World Cup in 24 years, which means that they are way too into this

9) That "Battle of Algiers" flick totally inspired the Iranian insurgency, which means we can blame the whole mess on them

8) Goalie Faouzi Chaouchi tried to steal the thunder of England's Robert Green with his own super soft goal

7) You just can't trust or like any team that takes its nickname from a famous Nazi general

6) Coach Rabah Saadane is 63, but still has a Facebook page, which just means that he's likely to inspire your parents to friend you and read your entire back history of sordid updates

5) As the 11th-largest country in the world and with home continent advantage, they are totally missing out on that underdog thing

4) Their best midfielder, Karim Ziani, was actually born in Paris, so they are cheaters as well as closet Frenchies

3) They have oil and Islam, two things that haven't generally gone well for us in the last decade

2) They are still in contention to move to the second round despite not scoring a goal in two games, which means that they personify everything that's wrong with this game

1) With the ouster of the French, they are the most French team still in the draw

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Top 10 reasons to root for the French in the World Cup

10) If they go through to the second round, it will give everyone a team to root against

9) The longer it takes for them to get eliminated, the longer (seriously) it will involve president Nicholas Sarkozy

8) Not since Brett Favre has a contending team been more douche dense

7) Makes all American prima donna athletes look better by comparison

6) Without France's help, the Americans do not achieve independence over the British with their massive win at Yorktown, which is one of those points that isn't quite making it in a Texas school book

5) Creates the real possibility that the host nation won't make the second round, which means that we'll see how much these people really like this game

4) A run by the French will make the Irish bitter, and few nations do that better

3) Could make tens of thousands of self-righteous American sports writers tear their back hair out

2) Might continue the managerial run of Raymond Domenech, who is just a real friend to bloggers trying to fill the hole on a slow day

1) Gives us all another couple of weeks to write and tell anti-French jokes

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remembering Manute

I assume you've heard by now of the passing of Manute Bol. For younger readers of the blog, Bol was one of the tallest players in the history of the NBA, and most assuredly its skinniest. According to the good people at Basketball Reference, Manute played at the measurements of 7'6" and 200 pounds, which means he carried just over 2 pounds of person for every inch of height. I want you to roll that around in your mind, really; that a human being could exist in that proportion, and play over 600 games in the NBA in 10 years without being, well, killed. Compared to Manute, Shawn Bradley was a muscleman, and Yao Ming was a sumo.

By almost any normal measurement of what humanity should be, Bol was impossible. Even bone should weigh more than two pounds an inch, really. By the way, take another look at that photo of him next to super-small teammate and fellow benchie Muggsy Bogues. Bogues is, for the record, my height. They often played together as part of the then-Bullets' Send In The Insanity bench work. It didn't win games, but it did stay with the eyes.

Manute is the only NBA player ever -- ever -- to have more blocked shots than points (2,086 to 1,599). Considering that the man made 43 three pointers, and that there's no play in basketball that gives you three blocked shots at once... well, like many things involving Manute, it made no sense.

I got to watch three years of Manute's NBA career as a Sixers season ticket holder, and it never, ever got past the point of sideshow. Part of this was that no one much imagined him as anything more than that; in his 624 games, he had only 133 starts, and averaged less than 19 minutes a game, and that average went down in his last six years in the league. The problem was simple; for all of his spidery length, Manute wasn't a very good rebounder, mostly because he might have had the worst hands to ever get paid to play pro hoop. Like many big men, he was borderline hopeless from the free throw line (career, a 56% shooter). Unlike them, he wasn't even a high percentage shooter, since he lacked the strength and body to even go strong on a dunk. So no matter what you did with him, you played 4-on-5 on offense. The only way it worked was when he'd block a shot, leading to a fast break where he wouldn't have to cross half court.

But oh, my, the defense.

Manute led the league in block percentage for everything but his last two years in the league. (And if you think he was something, imagine what he was like in his lone year in college, at small school Bridgeport after recruiting weirdness: over 7 blocks a game.) There might not have been a better man ever at getting a block from the weak side. The refs gave him the benefit of the doubt on any borderline goaltending call, probably because they were struck by the same spectacle that everyone else was... that this human arachnid had just done the sole thing that he was put on this earth to do, and that it just seemed wrong to deny it.

Like any good spider, Manute's success led to more chances, as any number of flies wanted to put him on their poster. He seemed to enjoy that part of the game, with a ready smile that was all the more striking when set against the relentless ebony of his skin. When photographed in Sports Illustrated in just his swimming trunks, the water refracting his body, it looked in no way human.

How good of a guy was he? Three of his four teams brought him back for a second stint. I can't think of a bigger testament to how much fun he was to have around. Don Nelson had a special jones for him, owing to his affinity for freakish matchups. Charles Barkley spoke long and lovingly of the man's sense of humor, and the constant back-and-forth on whether or not the man actually killed a lion with a spear as a teenager, was always good for killing time at a game.

Manute died this weekend, at the age of 47, from a rare skin condition. Of course he did. Was someone like him ever destined to leave this world in an ordinary manner?

This Week's Top 10 MLB Takeaways

10) If you write about MLB, you are required by law to discuss some aspect of Stephen Strasburg, so long as you don't discuss the Nationals' record or playoff hopes

9) The Yankees showed their preference for female impersonators over male impersonators by giving Lady Gaga access to the clubhouse ahead of the media

8) The Marlins' Hanley Ramirez sprained his hamstring after a promotional giveaway, in what can only be explained as a vuvuzela-inspired injury

7) The Astros actually chose to intentionally walk Vladimir Guerrero to get to Josh Hamilton, who already had four hits on the day, in a game-winning situation (he won the game with his fifth hit of the day)

6) The hottest team in the American League are the Chicago White Sox, which just goes to show that 10 games in June doesn't really mean a damn thing

5) Roy Halladay's Cy Young Award, 25-win season and clear superiority over Cliff Lee isn't quite up to his 8-6 record

4) Manny Ramirez returned to Boston and got booed by a majority of the crowd, which surprised only the national media

3) The Padres' rental on first place in the NL West is just about up

2) The Orioles are more than 10 games further out of first place in their division than every other team in MLB

1) Curt Schilling joined Joe Morgan, Orel Hershier and Jon Miller in the booth for Sunday Night Baseball to discuss Ramirez as the World Wide Lemur tried to break the Guiness world record for douchebag density

Top 10 World Cup Takeaways

10) Given that they are living up to every stereotype as a bunch of crying, quitting drama queens, perhaps the French shouldn't have cheated to beat the Irish and make the tournament

9) The New Zealand fans are so excited by today's tie against Italy, they are going to get heroically drunk, rathern than medicinally drunk

8) Now that Brazil are not only talented on offense, but good on defense and exceptional at thugging and flopping, they really do look the team to beat... with a hammer

7) A Nigerian player received a red card against Greece and over 1,000 death threats, which proves how much more Grecian Soccer Fan wants this

6) The U.S.-Slovenia match drew a record TV rating for ESPN, because people just can't get enough of Slovenia

5) If you have Gonzalo Higuain in your World Cup roto league, you desperately need to get a life

4) The leading assist man in the tournament is a Brazilian named Kaka, who will be suspended for the team's next game due to two yellow cards, and whose name will always make American viewers snicker like Beavis and Butthead

3) For the most part, in an unprecented development, the Africans have been subjugated, downtrodden and destitute

2) The North Korean players are about a week away from a thoroughly predictable arranged death

1) If you haven't been driven insane by the vuvezelas by now, you probably never will

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random acts of basketball

Folks who read the NBA playoff game diaries -- and yes, I know, that's really not all of you, seeing how raw the diaries are, and so be it -- caught a little of this, so apologies for recycling. Fie on me for not just saving it. Anywhere, here goes.

In the next 10 weeks, I'll grind away on the MLB season, cover any peccadillo that comes down the path, and prep for the NFL fantasy and regular season. I'll posit on the travels of LeBron James, the NBA draft, and probably some World Cup. The blog will more or less keep the same hours it always has. I've been doing this gig for 3.5 years and several thousand posts; it never really ends. That's simultaneously the good and bad things about it.

But in other ways, the year is just plain over, and seeing how no one in this society is really dependent on the calendar to determine whether they live in light and satiety, rather than darkness and hunger... well, the "end of the year" is really whenever you want it to be. There's more momentum for it to be now than December, in my opinion.

And when things end, there's always this tendency to try to sum up What It All Means. We just had a seven game NBA Finals in which the winning team's best player was a guy who never won anything before, who sparked a riot with some of the worst judgment seen outside of criminal proceedings. And now, he's got one more ring than Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson and dozens more truly great players. And, of course, one less than Adam Morrison.

See, that's the real lesson from the last two months of the playoffs; there is no lesson. Because NBA Finals teams nearly always show their pedigree in the regular season, and this Celtic team just slept through the regular season, then flicked the switch. NBA champions don't have third and fourth best players who are wildly erratic and/or don't show up for road games. They also don't have benches that get roasted for most of the playoff season, and past MVPs that go 6 for 24 in Game Seven... and win, and win the MVP.

It makes no sense. It's random. If the best team won, it's only because there isn't really such a thing now as best teams; there are just the ones that win, or match up best in the games that matter.

If I want to believe that there are reasons behind what we've seen, credit the Laker bigs for winning Game Seven, and for bringing the wood in more of the games. But that neglects the point that the Laker rebounding edge was mostly from the guards (Kobe Bryant, especially, was big in the deciding minutes on the glass, and Rajon Rondo wasn't), and that while injuries are a part of the game, losing a starter (Kendrick Perkins) for the last six quarters of the season is kind of rare.

You can also credit the coaching of Phil Jackson, seeing how he's got 11 of these rings and must just exude confidence, even to a team facing a 3-2 deficit. But it's hard to give him too much of a knob slob when he spent most of the series getting tortured by Nate Robinson without ever finding a way to exploit the little man on defense, or how the Laker defense would have collapsed like a house of cards if the Rondo that played Cleveland showed up. And it's not as if Doc Rivers really hurt his team at all during their run; his use of the bench players was inspired, and he got more out of Rasheed Wallace than any man could have this year.

So what we are left with, really, is where the NHL has been for decades. A playoff season that doesn't have much in common with the regular season. A sense of randomness, and exceptional unpredictability in the playoffs. The feeling that the rules, if there ever were any, for who wins and who loses and why have taken a break. Or maybe that the only teams who really get to play and win these things are the ones in the Laker and Celtic laundry, no matter how bad the play is, or ugly the flow. The ratings for this thing were immense. No one cares that the play was ugly and ragged. Kobe Bryant was the MVP after one of the worst games of his life. The Celtics could blow up overnight; Doc Rivers might be gone, Sheed may retire, Perkins may have a very serious injury, Ray Allen was close to being traded for a rack of balls in February, Robinson's a free agent and might get paid to put up numbers on a bad team again, and so on, and so on. Where LeBron James signs, and if he engineers a bunch of good free agents to come with him, could change everything, and probably will.

But for the most part, it sure feels like just some games that happened, and if the series was a best of 15, that it would have gone 15. Also, that there's no reason to think that anyone, besides the Celtic and Laker fans that seem to make up all of the fans that the Association has, will remember this thing for more than Artest thanking his psychiatrist. Very, very random.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Top 10 takeaways from the NBA Finals

10) When the Lakers and Celtics play seven rock fight games, it's a defensive classic, but when the Spurs and Pistons do it, it's an abomination in the eyes of the Lord

9) Brian Scalabrine can retire now, since he's been given the high honor of being called serviceable by Jeff van Gundy

8) In the long run, that whole "Laker/Celtic Fan Can't Trust Artest / Sheed" meme didn't really come true, seeing how both of them didn't take a critical technical, and hit monster threes late in the fourth quarter

7) Celtics Fan does not know whether to whine harder in Game Seven about Kendrick Perkins not being around to stop the rebounds, or the free throw discrepancy

6) While it's always hard to take Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant winning yet another trophy, there is the consolation of knowing that Boston Fan is going to cry about not being able to close the deal on this for a really, really long time

5) In retrospect, maybe Ray Allen making all of those threes in Game Two wasn't really an omen for the rest of the series

4) To everyone who thinks that the regular season doesn't matter... the Lakers had home court from it, and that kinda helped

3) When we look back on this series, we'll most remember that celebrities go to games, "Grown Ups" is now in theaters, and Mark Jackson likes to fellate NBA players with a sexy baritone growl

2) So long as a series goes seven games, and the last game is close in the fourth quarter, we can mostly forget that most of the games were eye rape

1) This absolutely, positively settles once and for all which team is better, until both teams meet in the Finals again next year

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Celtics - Lakers Game 7: A Grand Finally

You know how some people get down after the end of the Super Bowl? Well, that's kind of how I feel about the end of the NBA playoffs. While I'm going to watch MLB and World Cup games, and probably more preseason football than usual, the simple fact is that those games are going to be on background. Attention will be intermittent at best. I'll fold laundry, and blog, and do the day job work and the side project material (in case you missed it, and well you should, I'm trying my hand at stand up comedy these days). Tonight is, realistically, the last time I'm going to fully immerse myself in a game until mid-September. It feels much more like the end of a year than February. Kind of like a school year, really.

Well, folks, it's Graduation Day. Game Sevens are always a mixed bag; they can be huge, or they can flop. They are highly akin to old school Super Bowls, really. And seeing how the play has been *really* ragged so far -- two of the seven games wiped out by cross-country travel, and a Game One stinker after a week off for both teams, as part of All-Father Stern's continued efforts to sink the Association with the calendar -- and much of the play has been Whistle, Stop, Whistle, Stop... well, I think Winston Churchill said it best. Or Oscar Wilde, or George Bernard Shaw. Google failed me on this one. Seemed apropos.

In the Bad Tooth's podcast today, he hyped the game by calling it the biggest game in the NBA in the last 22 years. And the nation's non-Celtics and non-Lakers fans go for the latest and longest dry heave of the last two weeks, And Lord, There Have Been Many.

So let's get right into it, shall we? Especially since the team that wins the first quarter has won every game.

Andrew Bynum on the first possession, trying to loop spry; multiple shots stay out. They go back to him, and Paul Pierce pokes it away. Rajon Rondo turns it on a drive; good defense from Derek Fisher. Crowd as into it as you might expect. Ron Artest misses, but Pau Gasol taps it to Fisher, who hits the three. Early offense for the Lakers from rebounding. Gasol called for a blocking foul. Rasheed Wallace, a starter now, goes down low and scores mechanically over Gasol. Gasol misses, but Bynum boards, misses. Gasol gets the board, is blocked, but stays with it for the finish. Huge edge for the Lakers early on the boards. Sheed with a bank to quiet the crowd; it's 5-4 Lakers. Gasol misses a clean look from the free throw line, but runs after the board and gets his own miss, collecting a foul and getting to the line. The Boston guards don't look interested in rebounding right now. Gasol misses both free throws, and that's a bit of a shock.

Pierce with an ungainly drive, but he gets it to Garnett for the go-ahead score. Bynum with low position, scores on a hook. Sheed misses a three, and Rondo fouls Kobe Bryant, who is actually playing in this game, on the board. Bryant misses, but the Lakers gets the board, and Kobe is turned again on what looks like Aussie Football underneath. Rondo scores on a bank inside, and it's 8-7 Celtics. Fisher misses badly from the baseline, and the Sheed board leads to a Rondo layup. The Lakers have eight more shots and three less points.

Ray Allen eats Kobe on defense, and the possession ends with an awful shot from the Laker star, off the backboard for a turn. Pierce's long jumper stays out. Gasol screws Garnett into the ground and scores; pretty. KG responds with a forced airball, and Laker Fan knows how to chant. 10-3 edge on boards to the Lakers early. Gasol goes low, and gets blocked for a jump ball. It's 10-9 on first commerce, and I'm pretty sure that no player in this game is going to have foul trouble, short of triple overtime and/or brawls. Which means it will be a rock fight in the 80s, and make every team in the Association think that the aesthetically pleasing Phoenix style of hoop just can't win championships. Hooray! These are the teams and the ball that America wanted to see!

The Lemur is going to show us every old player in the building. The Celtics run off the break, but Rondo misses at the cup; something of a theme. Testy misses a three, and Kobe gets the o-board but misses. Garnett misses, but Bynum takes the board away with Sheed with authority, and gets a whistle on the other end. Fisher makes a runner, and the Lakers re-take the lead. No doubt that Bynum is enjoying Kendrick Perkins' absence. Allen with a three for the re-lead. Allen turns Testy, but loses it back. Pau Gasol clearly goaltended by Garnett; no whistle. Rondo to Garnett for the slam, and the Celtics lead by four. Gasol to Kobe at the cup, and that's pretty. 15-13 Celtics. Big Baby Davis finishes off an Allen pass as the teams play basketball. Bryant draws a foul on Allen, and he'll go to the line after commerce. 17-13 with three minutes left in the first as Mark Jackson finishes his WWE excretion grunt by celebrating Perkins in street clothes, and rhyming. No, seriously. And now, "Grown Ups" ads! How wonderful!

So far in this one, the Lakers look like they want it more -- the rebounding has been fierce -- but the Celtics have shot it better. Bryant makes one, and the Lakers are now just 1 of 4 from the line. Allen misses a three as the Celtics aren't anywhere near the o-boards. Pierce draws Gasol's second foul on one of those blocking flops that are just death to flow. Pierce makes, and the Celtics are suddenly up five. Bryant misses a long one, and Rondo to Davis is finished nicely by the big man. Laker Fan getting nervous, with reason. Fisher misses, and Garnett is called for his second on the resulting break, one of the most obvious screens on Lamar Odom that you will ever see. Jeff van Gundy apologizes for the call on Garnett. No, seriously. Nate Robinson and Wallace back in for Rondo and Garnett.

Odom nearly turned; Jordan Farmar misses. Lakers just missing the ocean right now. Davis to the rack off a Pierce pass, and two makes gives the Celtics their biggest lead, 23-14. The Lemur gets into Perkins cheering too much, and his choice of clothing. No, seriously. Bryant misses on ridiculous defensive pressure, and the scrum winds up in Celtic hands. Allen misses at the end of the quarter, and that's it. Celtics by nine despite the rebounding issues. If the Lakers don't start moving the ball on offense, the road team is going to win this one.

61-18 is the record of teams winning the first quarter. Kobe with a nice drive, clear of Tony Allen, and make. The Cs miss their first three shots of the quarter, and Odom is fouled by Tony Allen on the break as the home crowd starts to get into it. Another free throw miss, this one by Odom. Kobe to the bench, and after a make, it's a six point Celtic lead. A loose ball foul on LA, then a bad Pierce miss and Rondo board. Rondo's foul line jumper stays out. Sasha Vujacic to Farmar for a miss, but Testy fights for the board on Pierce and puts it back in. That's the 11th offensive board for the Lakers in 14 minutes, and it's the only thing keeping them in the game right now... but it's not like either team can be really happy with how they are playing. The Cs are defending well, but not showing a lot of hustle on the boards, and their offense hasn't been that good. The Lakers have missed a ton, both from the field and the line, and Bryant is going to Hero Mode too much. In other words, this will be praised as an outstanding defensive game. Don't Believe The Hype; when it's 23-19 after 14 minutes, that's a rock fight.

Bryant on the bench with a 2-for-8 line. M-V-P! M-V-P! Sheed's three stays out, and they are 1 of 6 as a team out there. Artest's three misses, but Bynum boards. Vujacic's three stays out, and Rondo is fouled to prevent a lay up. Sheed misses, this time inside. He's shooting too much. Kobe to Gasol down low for a patient make, and when he's a point guard, the Lakers win. Artest steals a bad KG pass and makes a layup for the tie; 8-0 run in four minutes. Another Cs turnover, and Garnett and Jack Nicholson talk things over. Really. Testy with a near turn. Kobe with a Globetrotter routine, rainbow that touches the rim, but Testy boards and scores. A Cs miss but the Lakers don't get it, and a Rondo layup for the re-tie as things heat up. Testy's three on good passing stays out. Allen misses an open three. It's one intense rock fight right now. Gasol misses a free throw jumper. Rondo misses, and Farmar is somehow called as Garnett goes over the back. Commerce happens, and not a moment too soon. I think they need to repaint the rims.

Garnett with good patience on Gasol; neither of these men can guard the other. The Celtics retake the lead. More rock throwing from LA, who are now 11 for 41 from the floor. Wow. Allen misses, and this is a no whistle game. Kobe takes it to Garnett in Fullback Mode, and that's KG's third. Wallace back in for him as Kobe misses yet another free throw. The second goes in, and Pierce answers with a mid-range make. Cs are just jump shooters here. Testy misses, but Allen is out of bounds at the other end to stop the break. Testy finally makes a three, and we're tied at 29 again.

Pierce with a miss. Kobe misses another forced shot. Allen tripped by Fisher for his second on the other end, and only Laker Fan sees that as a bad call. Two makes from Allen. Sheed blocks Gasol on the other end; nice play for the Celtic big man. Fisher gets his third on a dicey call, fighting on the floor for a loose ball with Pierce. It's not so much that he didn't foul the Celtic small forward, as that he fouled him three times before the call was made, and it's just not in keeping with how the game has been called to date. More commerce, and if one of these teams makes it to 85 tonight, I'll be surprised.

More celebs! As if Terrell Owens is still a celeb. Two Pierce makes as Jeff van Gundy talks about Jennifer Garner's spawn. No, seriously. Bryant with a good make and patient drive. Sheed with a bank shot in the post, and if he only did that for his whole life, such better ball would have happened. Bryant misses, and Allen hits a three as actual points are scored; Celtics with a quick 7 point lead. Ugliness after an Artest drive as four Celtics are involved with Testy and Pierce. They get the double technicals with the Pierce foul, and honestly, Testy might be the best Laker tonight. He's got 11, all in the second, and cuts the lead to five. Sheed misses on Odom; stagnant offense. Gasol with his 10th board. Testy draws a Ray Allen foul as both he and Sheed jump around, despite the fact that the replay shows them to be comically at fault. Honestly, Celtic Fan, this is why America hates your team, though they also hate the Lakers, too. One Testy make, and the lead is four.

Bynum called for a foul as Pierce does his usual Falling Down Drunk move on the big man pressure. Ah, soccer playing is starting to break out, folks. Pierce with two makes as Josh Powell and Brian Scalabrine -- Brian Scalabrine! -- check in. Sheed out for the Unbearable Whiteness. Two makes for Pierce. Terrible Laker possession ends with Kobe begging for a foul, but the Cs turn it on Davis to Rondo. Honestly, Scalabrine covered Odom like a glove. Then sat down. Jeff van Gundy tells us he's serviceable! Shannon Brown's end of quarter three wouldn't have counted and stays out anyway,and that's the half. The Lakers shoot 26% for the half and it's not like the Celtics are much better. America, I'm sorry if this was your only exposure to basketball. It's usually better than this.

Rondo to Garnett for a make to start the second. Testy bulls to the basket, gets blocked by Pierce, but gets the board and follow. Garnett throws in a wild shot after Bryant fouls him, but the refs correctly wave off continuation. Kobe's first. Allen misses over Fisher. Rondo picks up his second on Bryant, overguarding a pass. Super tight game in all respects. Bryant with a long, terrible three that stays out. Garnett to the rack with a make and the foul, as Gasol and Bryant don't communicate. KG does his Heel Wrestler scream, and that's Bryant's second foul, to go with a 3-for-15 shooting line. Ug Lee! He forces and misses, the Lakers board to get a Testy miss. Rondo with a driving make, and that's the first double-digit lead of the game, with the Celtics up 11. It's getting harder and harder to see how the Lakers get enough offense to win this game...

The Lemur brings up John Starks as Kobe misses a relatively clean look. Ut oh! Garnett misses on Bynum. Testy gets an offensive foul as Pierce falls; that's Testy's second. Mark Jackson going into full Celtic Knob Slob Mode. Pierce misses, but Rondo boards and makes, and the lead is 13. 7-0 Celtics run. Kobe in Fullback Mode gets Sheed's third, and Pierce is clutching his shoulder and sitting for Tony Allen. Call for the Magic Wheelchair! Bryant makes just one, and he's in Nightmare Land now. Fisher steals an Allen pass, and the Lakers feed Kobe, who nearly turns it and looks tentative. The goat horns are growing! See, I knew there was a silver lining to watching these games...

Bryant with a make, and the crowd exists again. Rondo misses, nearly steals the board from Bryant, but loses it. Pierce back after some Magic Healing. Gasol spins on Sheed, nice make, and the Lakers look like a basketball team again. Garnett on Gasol is a make for the Celtics, yet again. Fisher gets the roll on a catch and shoot. Rondo misses, Testy can't finish the break, but Odom scoops up the garbage, and Doc Rivers calls time. Six point Celtic lead, and we've got a game again. It's so exciting, Mark Jackson talks like a constipated bear. That's your sign of quality basketball!

Even more celebrities! Woo!

Allen misses, but Sheed gets the long board. Testy steals, but Pierce gets it back for an atrocious Sheed three and miss. Kobe blocked, and Pierce hits a three; big, big shot. van Gundy buries Odom for not getting back. Bryant misses on Allen, no call, and he's begging for them with his body language. Testy eats Pierce on defense, and Bryant gets his 10th board. Odom gets to the rim for a nice make. Seven point game. Sheed is a black hole on Odom, but at least he's making them in the block. Bryant makes after a no-call flop/charge; Odom wanted no part of the three. Gasol finally stops Garnett in iso with a block, then gets a call down low on Sheed. Davis in for the Cs. Fisher to the locker room; Shannon Brown in, and the replay shows Fisher might be seriously crotched. Two makes from Gasol cuts it to five. Pierce misses a crazy ugly shot, and Bryant is turned by Allen. Brown strips Rondo in the open court, but the foul is called almost before it happens. Rondo shrugs off the 4 for 17 free throw mark and makes one, but Davis gets the board... and Testy just owns it away from him. That's a strong psycho right there, but Testy gives and Testy takes, with a turnover on the end line. van Gundy finally admits that this is a badly played game. And it only took seven games to notice!

Allen can't get anything to fall; 1 for 9 after the latest lid job. Davis gets a foul and you will be shocked to learn that he does not agree. The Lakers play volleyball, with Odom finishing it. Fisher returning, the lead is four. Davis misses, and Gasol boards. Artest's three stays out, and Scalabrine comes in for Garnett. I'm sorry, HDTV was not meant for Brian Scalabrine. The Cs hold for the final, and it winds up being Scal on a drive that he doesn't get off in time. To say that he looks like a fat kid at a CYO game is to demean fat kids at CYO games. Tony Allen deflects a pass to prevent a heave. Ray Allen in for Scalabrine, because Rivers can only take so much of that, and Rondo's three quarter court heave hurts the backboard just a little bit less than most of the shots in this one. Celtics 57, Lakers 53, and I think even the non-blogosphere is going to notice the stink on this one. Please, Lord, let this end in regulation.

Kobe is 5 for 20. Ray Allen is 1 for 9. Phil Jackson buries Kobe in the required interview. And more telling... just one assist. Jackson, of course, fellates Kobe anyway. You have to love the Lemur.

Gasol with good patience, and he gets a Davis foul for the old-school three... but misses yet another free throw. 9 for 17 from the line now; wow. Terrible Celtic possession ends in a turn, and Testy is having himself a game. More Laker rock throwing and volleyballing, and Davis gets his third. Testy leaves for Bryant, and he actually asked for the rest. Testy's been the best Laker tonight, and it hasn't been close. Bryant misses again, but that one was actually a decent shot. Vujacic fouls Davis on entry. Garnett and Artest both back in, and the only thing that will save the starters are the relentless timeouts of late game NBA land.

Pierce can't draw a foul or a make, but gets a back tap for another possession. Farmar turns Rondo, and Testy runs a no-pass break that Garnett blocks; should have been a foul. Odom's three stays out, and Bryant gets a blocking foul on the break; pretty ugly play from both him and Allen. Garnett misses at the end of the clock, and if possible, the offenses have gotten worse in this quarter. Farmar turned by Davis. Garnett on a good entry pass and make, and the Celtic lead is four. Rondo's 8th assist as Rivers is annoyed at the refs. Nine minutes left in this game, and hopefully, this season.

Bryant draws a cheap one on Ray Allen, and that's three free throws of caginess. Robinson in for Rondo; big decision, especially with a lead to protect. Bryant makes all three free throws, and the lead is one. Allen makes a tough floater, and both goats shed the horn. Artest misses, and Davis with a very good board. Robinson's high layup stays out, and the Lakers get the team board. Gasol to Testy, nice interior pass, and he gets the make and foul on Pierce. Just a huge play by Testy, and he even makes the free throw. Tie game, and so much for the Trevor Ariza comparison.

Allen gets to the line on Bryant's third foul, and the refs are starting to tighten up, as usual, in the late going. Allen finally misses a free throw, and that's an upset. The second goes in, and the Celtics lead, 62-61. Gasol is somehow not fouled, as Garnett makes a great play. Laker team board. Odom misses a three, and Gasol is fouled over the back by Sheed on the follow dunk attempt. Even more free throw miss by Gasol, and if they lose this game, these will be damning. Allen gets to the line on a Garnett pass, and he won't miss any more of these. Three point Celtic game. Fisher hits a monstrous three to tie it, and that was just a huge shot. Rondo did everything he could to get a hand in his face, and the old man just drained it anyway. Rondo misses, and Bryant gets the board and a hard foul. Celtics are in the penalty now, and after 6.75 games of ugly, we're finally getting compelling ball. I'm almost sorry to see it.

Bryant gives the Lakers their first lead in forever, after commerce, and his best moments tonight have been at the line and on the boards. Allen with a clean look and miss as Fisher was screened. Bryant makes on a pull up to push the lead to four, and give the devil his due... that was big time. Tellingly, Fisher screams at the club on the bench, "We still need stops!" Yes, yes, you do.

Five minutes left. Cs tentative, and Pierce misses a three. Kobe boards. Put away time? Gasol draws a late whistle on Garnett, his fourth, and Rivers is aghast. Gasol was 2 of 7 at the line tonight... but he's 4 of 9 now, and the Cs are in real trouble. Six point game. 9-0 run. Long possesion, Allen has a good drive, but can't finish, and that's Bryant's 15th board. Kobe misses short. Lakers get back to stop the Rondo drive, but Pierce makes, and the lead is four and the run is broken. Big shot by Pierce. Laker offense stagnating with Kobe now, but he gets to the rim and draws a Pierce foul on a dunk attempt. Bryant misses the first, and I wonder about his legs, honestly. The second goes in; 5 point game.

High low pass leads to a Garnett slam; three point lead with three to play. Kobe feeds Gasol, and Garnett takes his fifth to prevent the layup. That could be telling. Gasol now feeling it from the line, and the Lakers have outshot the Celtics by over a dozen free throws in the fourth. That sound you heard was Boston Fan screaming. Sheed misses, and the Lakers get the board. Pierce with a blocking foul, and that's his fourth; Gasol back to the line. Just rugby right there, as the Celtics tried to force the eight second call. Gasol with yet another free throw miss, and this game would be over if the Lakers had simply made free throws. The second goes in, and the lead is six. Testy with a foul on Pierce, and that's a terrible play by him, though Pierce sold it well with the elbow. Two makes cuts the lead to four with 2:14 left, and please, Lord, no overtime. We'll be here all night.

Odom's three stays out. Pierce is blocked as the on-court mics pick up a woman screaming in fear -- Vujacic? -- and the team board stays away from Wallace. One hundred seconds left. Gasol somehow squeezes one off, coming down, into a forest of trees... and he makes it through six Celtic arms for a huge basket. The Shooter Wife is even watching this, for the first time ever, and is clearly enthralled by Gasol, who is in Full Muppet Mode on the slo-mo celebration... and the replay shows that Gasol didn't get it off. Major Boston Fan Puling Alert!

Sheed finally hits a three, and that's insanely helpful for the Cs. Artest answers, and honestly, who would have seen both team's problem children doing that in the clutch? Allen hits another three from the corner, and good gravy. Wow, wow, wow. Kobe misses a three, Gasol gets the board, and Kobe succumbs to Hero Mode again with a drive and shot, when the Lakers should have ran clock. Unreal. Sheed leaves with his sixth foul, and how he didn't get a technical foul today, I don't know. Bryant has been the only good Laker from the line tonight, and he makes both with 25.7 seconds left. 81-76 Lakers.

Allen misses, but Rondo boards and makes a three, which is just insanely huge. Rondo nearly forces a turnover on the inbounds, and we've got a game to the buzzer. Say this for the Celtics; they have not quit despite this fourth quarter being just filled with dagger moments. Odom inbounds on no pressure, and he gets it to Vujacic, who will have to make the throws. He's an 88% career shooter, and he's in just to make free throws. Can he make them? Yes to the first, all cotton. Yes to the second, all cotton. I think I just heard Bill Simmons' heart explode. (Checks Twitter feed. Yup!)

Rondo misses from the corner, Gasol gets the board, and the Lakers are able to throw it downcourt and avoid the foul. The series is over, and the Lakers are the 2010 NBA Champions. Much more later, of course, but this is already going to be the longest diary ever, so let's get it up and move on. At least it ended with a tight and compelling, if not actually very good, game...

Top 10 reasons why the NFL is likely to go to an 18 game regular season

10) It's the only way to get rid of the horror that is preseason games

9) The extra games will finally let the world see all of the amazing back up quarterback talent in the league

8) An extra two weeks of fantasy football is just what the nation's marriage counselors needed

7) The nation's concussion experts will get enough data to make better decisions

6) With each passing year, fewer and fewer people buying into the idea that there are months in the year when you should watch other sports

5) More regular season games means more chances to see hated players on rival teams get hurt

4) With the advent of running back by committee, it's the only way to keep the goal of a 1,000 yard rushing season alive

3) Gives the league more opportunities to inflict games on foreign markets

2) A longer regular season will give the Broncos and Cowboys a longer stretch run in which to fail

1) The same thing that decides everything else in the NFL: cash, cash, cash

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Top 10 things to know before Celtics-Lakers Game Seven

10) Since any technical foul called in this game won't be disciplined until the utterly meaningless 2011 regular season, you can pretty much bet the house on Rasheed Wallace getting rung up

9) If the game is close, Andrew Bynum is planning to have his knees drained at every timeout

8) Since even the Celtics have admitted that Kendrick Perkins won't play, you can be pretty sure he's going to die

8) Between the ref puling, injury wringing and suck chants, both team's fan bases are really bringing their Super Obnoxious "A" game

7) Since the series has gone seven, the national audience has been blessed with the maximum possible exposure to "Grown Ups"

6) Now that the Celtics have activated Brian Scalabrine, the Lakers are just in for a world of eye hurt

5) This should be the last basketball game in North America where Adam Morrison has a good view

4) Your natural urge towards sympathy for Perkins to have to miss Game 7 is tempered by the fact that Perkins is, well, a big freaking douchebag

3) I, personally, can not sleep with the anticipation of how deep Mark Jackson will make his voiceover before commercials

2) The losing team's coach has to get his head shaved and leave town

1) As a final and irrefutable proof that God loves us, this series will end

Top 11 Takeaways from Celtics-Lakers Game Six

11) After giving the Celtic bench five dollars every time they slapped them in the first five games, the Laker Bench scored the first 21 non-starter points of the game

10) No team is better at conserving energy when they fall behind big like the Celtics

9) When the game is out of hand, the refs like to give Kobe Bryant technicals, just to show him who's boss

8) If you ever in a fight where the only weapons allowed are throwing rocks, you better make friends with Tony Allen fast

7) No matter which team wins, Celtic Fan or Laker Fan will pule that the injury suffered by their center slug was really the deciding factor, not the performace of the opposition

6) Both teams bench players seemingly break out in hives when they have to wear jerseys that are not predominantly white

5) When Ron Artest is cooly hitting threes and not sending his man to the foul line, you aren't winning the game

4) The refs didn't call Artest for a foul when Rajon Rondo slammed his jaw into his arm, because they were as offended by Rondo's 5 for 15 night as the rest of the world

3) The Celtics shot only 10 free throws tonight, which will be mentioned by roughly 500 Celtic blogs, and five million Celtic fans

2) Shannon Brown has one offensive move, but when you give him space to dunk, it's enough

1) If you really like basketball, you have to watch these games... and also, welcome the fact that there can only be one more game of it

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lakers - Celtics Game Six: Yet Another Not Very Good Game

With Laker Fan roaring their nervous approval, Ron Artest hits a leading three, and Derek Fisher anticipates a terrible Kendrick Perkins pass for a steal and layup. Kevin Garnett misses, Andrew Bynum boards, but Garnett with a steal. A Paul Pierce three misses, but Ray Allen gets the long board over a suspiciously flat-footed Bynum. Allen misses a catch and shoot, but so does Fisher. Allen gets a layup with a foul over Fisher, and it's tied again. Pau Gasol has the home court patience to ball fake and go inside for a shooting foul and one make. Allen finally gets a three off a Garnett screen. Kobe answers with a mid-range jumper for the tie. Gasol blocks Perkins, and Kobe overdrives but somehow avoids the turnover for an eventual make. Celtics run after the basket, eventually leading to Fisher's second foul on Rondo. Shannon Brown in for Fisher.

Allen misses a three, and Bryant makes a line drive jumper over Rondo. Lakers by four and feeling it. Artest with a steal and Gasol drives and finishes for the 8-0 Laker run. Rondo misses and Perkins falls as Bynum picks up his second, going over the top. Call for the Paul Pierce Magic Wheelchair! But seriously, if Perkins is really hurt, the series changes a *lot*, in much the same way that the series has changed with Bynum getting hurt. Having said that... Perkins is a Celtic. Short of shattering a fetlock and being shot on the court, you just can't trust any injury to be real. Perkins is helped off to the locker room with what might be a knee issue. Rasheed Wallace in.

Garnett hits a key jumper to stop the run. Bryant makes a ridiculous three near the end of the clock. Garnett off a high-low screen for a tough layup. Testy drives and spins in a jumper, and the lead is seven. Pierce misses on good Testy pressure, and Gasol outfoxes Rondo for the board. Gasol sells a Wallace foul on a Testy miss to keep the ball. Testy stripped and fouls, and while it's nice that he's playing confident, it's not nice if he overhandles it. Tony Allen in and misses, and Testy makes another corner three to make the lead 10. Big shots. Rondo with a crazy miss as the Lakers answer with shaky ballhandling. Bryant misses at the end of the clock, and Pierce settles things with a key floater. Gasol works on Garnett and gets a call on Pierce. Whether the Celtics don't want this game or the Lakers are just this much better from their role players feeling comfortable at home, it's looking very much like Game 7 to me.

Big Baby Davis and Lamar Odom in for the last two minutes of the quarter. Bryant misses on a drive, playing more like a point guard tonight. That's a compliment. Pierce turned by Bryant. Testy with an ugly drive and miss on Pierce, but Gasol boards and scores, and he's got 6-5-3 in the first quarter. Huge turnaround. Pierce misses on Testy pressure. Sheed pulls the chair on Gasol for a turnover. The Cs hold for their terrible final possession offense, and this time it's Nate Robinson fumbling the ball like it's coated with butter, not getting it off before the horn. Lakers by 10 after the first, 28-18.

Not to be a Laker fan here -- honestly, I'd like both of these teams to contract ebola -- but that quarter contained actual flow and basketball-like moments. Kudos to the refs for allowing a game to happen. Bryant with 11-1-1 in the first, but it was much more in the flow of the offense.

Good Laker defense ends with a Sheed miss from the arc. Sasha Vujacic enters the game and makes, and if the Laker bench is going to play well, that's another big change. Allen makes to get to 10 points himself; what a roller coaster he's been on. Jordan Farmar misses, but Bynum looks alive and forces Davis to tip it out. Odom catches, shoots and scores, and that was pretty, too. Robinson does something ridiculous -- alley oop? jumper? attempt to break the backboard? -- and the Lakers get it back. Volleyball on the offensive boards stays out, and Robinson emerges and gets a Vujacic foul. Davis misses badly on Bynum pressure from the key. Vujacic and Bryant don't hook up, and Davis makes the defensive play there. Sheed takes a three at the end of the clock and misses. Odom drives on Sheed and gets the obvious foul call, and Sheed responds with what would have been a technical on any other player in the league, but since he's got six already, the refs endure it. Sheed's third, so he's done. Garnett comes back as Odom makes two, and the lead is 14. Danger time...

Allen gets a layup on a good Rondo pass; just the second Celtic hoop in six minutes. Odom and Bryant miss on more volleyball, but Farmar gets on the floor to force a turnover and break, and Bryant gets a foul call. I think Kobe could have passed to the trailer for an open slam on that play, but there's a reason why he's Kobe and all, and I suppose the foul call is important and all. The commerce helps get him his breath back, and two makes pushes it back to 13 as the Lemur talks about Mark Jackson's defensive career. No, seriously.

Garnett misses on what could have been a foul, and Davis fouls Odom on the follow. Farmer with a nice drive and make, and the lead is 15 as Kobe sits. Rondo with another wild miss. Vujacic misses the corner three, but Gasol is running the floor, collecting the board and putting in an easy one as Davis reminds the world why he doesn't start. The run is now 22-7 Lakers, and the Celtics appear to be in full Energy Conversation Mode. You have to admire their commitment to the environment.

Gosh, celebrities have come to the game. Who would have guessed it? Couldn't we have seen another ad for "Grown Ups" there, ABC? That movie needs our support!

Garnett misses on good Gasol defense. Odom misses from distance, and that's Garnett's first board. Ouch. Pierce misses, but Davis gets the o-board and foul on the putback. After two misses, it's 40-23 Lakers, and the Cs are on pace to score 70 tonight. Gasol misses, and Rondo passes to Pierce for a good runner make, but Vujacic hits the straight on three to keep the pressure on. Pierce stripped, and Farmer finishes with a speed slam to make it a 20 point lead. Pierce quiets things with an answer lay up, and Phil Jackson wisely calls time before his bench players go into full All Star Spectacle Mode.

Lakers up by 14 boards as the Lemur reports nothing on the Perkins injury. Hard time imagining him coming back for this one. Testy with a stepback jumper over Pierce on an ugly possession, and man, the Lakers are enjoying home court. Rondo misses something artistic, and Testy misses a heat check three. Garnett misses a long one, and the Cs get the team board. The horrible Shelden Williams misses a dunk, and Kobe makes a hard hanger for the largest lead of either team in the Finals; 22 for the Lakers. Garnett makes at the end of the clock as Kobe makes a dumb steal gamble. Deep bench time for a Laker miss from Josh Powell, who's in to buy time for Bynum and give energy defense on the Celtic bigs. Well, if Williams is in, go nuts.

Allen misses an open look. Kobe in Hero Mode for a turn; his team is up 20, and he's forcing it to get his numbers right now. Rondo misses a slam off an Allen pass, and he's been brutal this half. Jostling on a jump ball, and Rondo wins it on Odom. Fisher gets his third on what looks like a clean strip to me, but it's not like they'll need him. Pierce gets no call on a drive against Luke Walton and Bynum, and Vujacic's three is embarrassingly bad. Pierce with a make, and the Cs won't have less than 30 for the half. Gasol with a bad miss, and that might be a refs letting them play moment; he doesn't usually miss by that much. Pierce's three misses, and Bryant holds for the final shot. Bryant with 15-7-2, and his miss is tipped in by Odom, who is also stepping up tonight. Garnett misses a three to end it, and the Lakers lead by 20 in the least competitive first half of the series. We're 24 minutes away from this series going the distance.

Perkins won't return tonight; not exactly a shock. Can't see him coming back for Game 7, really, but Game Sevens are magic. Fisher picks up his fourth foul in nine minutes, and that one was weak. Farmar in, and Allen misses over him. Kobe corkscrews for the foul call, and this game sounds sleepy right now. Testy turns. Allen feeds Davis at the cup, but he can't make on the road. Rondo with a nifty old-school back shot to finish the possession with a score. Gasol misses on Davis with sleepy offense continuing. Rondo misses, but Davis boards and falls hard on a Gasol foul. Celtics starting to find their legs here, but the rim, not so much. Bynum to the locker room as Davis and Bryant jaw. Pierce strips Gasol, but Allen misses at the cup, and man alive, are they leaving cash on the table. Odom with a jumper ends the Laker draught.

Rondo hits off a Garnett dish inside, and he's now 3 for 11. Gasol's high archer is nothing but cotton. Garnett misses on a drive, and he looks old again. Weird. An ugly Laker possession stays with the home team after an out of bounds scrum, and ends with a Testy three from the arc. Pierce's three goes, and the Lakers are letting them stick around. Kobe to Gasol is nifty, but the Spaniard's shot stays out; team board to LA. Bryant gets to the rim on contact and gets the old-school three, and that was Fullback Jordan there; pain for payback. The make keeps the lead at 20.

Pierce's drive is ramshackle, but it goes, with no foul. Shannon Brown's three stays out as the play gets chippy. Pierce turns it off his foot, and Brown throws it down. Garnett with a make as Gasol and Pierce exchange Hurt Feelings. Gasol goes on Garnett, but the hooks stays out. Garnett misses over Odom, and Bryant gets his 8th board with A Thor Ahh Tie. The replay of Brown's dunk shows Rondo getting away with a cheapie little shove on Bryant in the open court, to no Lemur comment. If this one stays close enough for the starters, expect some more Hurt Feelings soon. These teams just don't... ever miss the Finals. Sigh.

Bynum back on the Laker bench as Shannon Brown shows Dunk Contest quality. Wow. Kobe bodies up on Pierce as Gasol gets called for a defensive three second violation; the technical is made. Garnett makes the open mid-range shot, and that's a three point trip after the Brown dunk. So much for momentum. Bryant goes down low to draw another foul, and he looks like he wants garbage time tonight. Laker Bench now up 21-0 on the Celtic benchies. Two makes from Kobe gets it to 19.

Long Celtic possession ends with Odom giving Allen too much room for a jumper make. Kobe creates room on Allen, but the jumper stays out. The Celtic break is ragged and misses, and Garnett is called for a foul on Brown coming back. Gasol tortures Davis for a foul, as Garnett and Odom do silly crap for Jeff van Gundy's amusement after the whistle. Whatever. Gasol with two makes, and it's 19 again with just over 15 minutes to play.

Rondo with a pick and roll jumper make, as Bryant does not respect that shot. Artest abuses Pierce for a drive and make, and he's got a double-double. Rondo goes back door on Kobe, and I'm sorry, that's never going to stop being funny. Gasol with a skill make on the other end, and to say he looks comfortable in this game is an understatement. To a dead crowd that sounds like they are just appreciating the accepted, the teams are more or less trading baskets. I hold to the belief that this will be the most overrated Finals ever; much of the games were ugly, and this one's just not competitive. So far.

Davis with an o-board on a free throw miss. Sheed's three misses, but he defends Farmar in the open cort. Rondo misses two shots and falls heavily; Vujacic takes advantage of the 5-on-4 for the corner three. Rondo ran into Artest's arm, and while I'm sure that Celtic Fan is going to be irate that he didn't get a call for that, I'm not sure what Artest is supposed to do to avoid the contact. He's got his arms up, the man runs into it as he's turning for the board. But that kind of thing can wake a team up.

Testy with a foul on Pierce as the Cs go to Robinson. Pierce's long three is ugly and out. Artest hits a three to make it 25, and that might be your dagger shot. Robinson misses a bad long three, because he is Nate Robinson. Gasol misses, and that's the third quarter. 76-51 Lakers, and my Celtics in six prediction is not looking very solid right now.

Farmar with a bad turn, but the way this is going for the Lakers, it winds up in a jump ball, rather than a Celtic fast break. Rondo wearing a bandage on his jaw now. Game getting chippy again. Rondo wins the jump, and Sheed misses. Gasol with the board, and Shelden Williams is flopping harder than any NBA player ever, on both ends. It's like he's wearing skates. Gasol makes both as van Gundy advocates Sheed Removal, like there's any chance that he's getting T'd up by this crew. Rondo turned as the Laker defense on him is borderline insulting. Tony Allen's jumper is offensively bad. Gasol's hook stays out. Robinson with a nice reverse and goes to the line, and after 38 minutes, the Celtics have bench points. The free throw goes in to cut the lead to 24.

Farmar misses a three, but Gasol boards and dunks, and it's all gravy for the home team. The Cs miss, board and turn, and Odom misses for a Rondo board. Nine minutes to burn. Robinson tripped for a foul as Mark Jackson makes a Pau Pow joke. Let's just say he wasn't saving the A material for a blowout. Of course, with Jackson, maybe that is the A material...

Robinson misses by a foot after commerce. Fisher's terrible night continues with a turn; the C bench misses a lot of layups, but Tony Allen eventually gets it to go down. Odom misses from range, and Tony Allen misses as well. The teams are 3 for 15 this quarter; can you say Garbage? Make it 3 for 17, and I can't keep up with who's hurting the rim more. Farmar misses; Ray Allen scores, and yippie, 4 for 19 now. Farmar turns and Kobe gets a technical for complaining about Tony Allen's defense. Ray Allen makes, and the lead is 21.

Pierce back in, with a miss. Kobe gets the makeup foul on Ray Allen in the post, and with 6:05 left, this one is officially in Sleepy Time, notwithstanding the possible technical / hard foul potential. But honestly, I'm really not seeing it.

Fisher turns again, and wow, he's been just atrocious. Sheed's three stays out. Kobe to the rack for the layup; pretty. Sheed's three stays out; he's now 0 for 7 from the field, 0 for 6 from the arc. Whoops. Bryant and Tony Allen get into each other as Kobe looks fairly spazzy. Tony Allen watches two makes from the other end of the court; odd. Ray Allen's drive stays out on an obvious no-call, as the refs just seem to want this one to be over, and for the Celtic Fans to have something to pule about. Kobe's three stays out, and Odom takes a hustle foul battling Garnett for the loose ball. Walton comes in as Rivers pulls his starters, and I have a rule: when Marquis Daniels and Josh Powell are in, it's time to stop the full diary. But guess what? Laker Fan knows how to chant that something sucks, too! And the final score was... Lakers 89, Celtics 67, and that's an NBA Finals low. The Celtics do know how to conserve energy.

The team that's won the rebounding battle, or the first quarter, is 6-0. Which tells us two things: the games have been won early and on effort, and that the games haven't been particularly dramatic. But one game for everything kind of *has* to be dramatic, so hope springs eternal. And no matter what, we won't see any more ads for "Grown Ups" after Thursday night. So it's all good. See you then.

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