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NBA Fathers & Sons Two-on-Two: The Games have Begun
March 28, 2013Posted by on
I had this dark moment on an airplane a few days ago where I lost all faith in the Father/Son idea as a blog post. It was some combination of plastic cups with red wine and sleep deprivation that shook me up, but damn it, I said we’d power through this imaginary tournament and power through we will. Today’s post looks at what happened in the first round of father/son play and spells out the rules/parameters of the games:
- Single-elimination. You lose and you’re out. No running it back, no best out of three, no pissing, no moaning (looking at you Kobe and Rick Barry).
- Referees will be included. There was some discussion around keeping this more of an informal, park-type game a’la White Men Can’t Jump (part of me wishes the title was in singular form: White Man Can’t Jump; like it’d be this specific guy. Perhaps there’s room in our culture for Black Man Can’t Jump? – sorry for the digression), but the thought of current and former NBA players calling their own fouls was too much to bear. Kobe’d shoot 100% because he’d be calling fouls every time the ball didn’t go through the hoop. So refs are involved.
- Games are played to 21 points with twos and threes. It’s win by two or first team to 25.
- There is no make-it-take-it rule. Imagine the Currys, Dell and Steph, bombing away from 25 feet and winning a game 21-3.
- As for the presentation of the first round; the quadrants have been divvied up amongst the four of us:
- Hamilton gets the Bryants quadrant
- Bug gets the Thompsons
- Jacob gets the Walker/Rose
- I/Fenrich get the Barrys
And the Barry bracket is where we’ll begin:
Rick/Brent Barry (1-seed) vs. Eric and Walt Piatkowski (8-seed):
On the one hand, we’ve got one of the top father/son combos in NBA/ABA history in the Barrys. Rick was a first-ballot Hall of Famer, NBA champion, league scoring champ, and all-around antagonistic ass (for more information on this, read Barry’s section in Bill Simmons’s Book of Basketball). He’s paired with his dunk contest-winning son, Brent “Bones” Barry; a lanky wing with his father’s build and athleticism, but not quite the skill. Meanwhile, the Piatkowskis, a couple of tall wings who attempted to make a living on jump shots and grit. It worked for son Eric, but not father Walt who appeared in three seasons of pro ball, but ultimately left to become a paper salesman. In this game, the paper salesman and his son simply can’t compete with the multi-skilled Barry’s who run pick and pops and give and go’s en route to a 21-9 victory. Much of the game is spent cringing at the paper salesman barbs slung from Rick in the direction of Walt. Clearly embarrassed, Brent Barry immediately walked off the court following the victory; despite his dad’s calls for him to “come back” and “celebrate like a winner.”
Stan Love is such a swanky ass name. Can’t you picture a man named “Stan Love” strolling through clubs and lounges in the 70s with huge lapels on his leisure suit, spouting out cornball lines to any woman in earshot while flashing a massive smile and introducing himself as “Dr. Love” or “Stan the Man, but ladies call me the Doctor of Love.” That’s what I picture and then I see what Stan Love used to look like: A 6’9” brute with a Fu Manchu-style furry moustache. And the height matters here. The elder Love only appeared in four seasons, but the Loves are just too big and versatile for the slightly built Dunleavys who go 6’3” (dad) and a lean 6’9” (son). The Loves get the boards and pound the ball inside and out while Stan’s brother, Beach Boy member, Mike Love, strolls along the baseline singing ad-libbed songs about how Love conquers all, especially the Dunleavys. It was a mostly tactless move by Mike Love, but the laid back tunes and 60s throwback lyrics had most fans and even the players in a California state of mind. Loves, 21, Dunleavys 15.
The Wilkins’s have a clear size and athleticism advantage over the shorter, slower Bibbys, but the pedigree of the Bibbys (one of three father/son combinations to win NCAA championships) had fans and analysts wondering how the Dunleavys received a 5-seed while the Bibbys got a 6. Seeding aside, the little Bibbys (both 6’1”) had to rely on their superior perimeter shooting and point guardish sleight of hand. Wilkins to Wilkins on lobs (straight over the little Bibbys), post-ups and penetrations were flashier than the Bibbys perimeter approach, but in the end, the slower, sleepier combination of Mike and Henry got the upset with a 21-18 win.
If Brent Barry acts as a balancing weight against his dad’s irascibility, brother Jon is the lighter fluid on the flame. Jon and Rick go back and forth stirring the pot with one another in a way that makes it hard to understand if they’re secretly motivating each other or intentionally needling one another. It doesn’t matter much in this game against the taller, but overmatched Ferrys who’ve made more of an impact on the game as executives than players. Rick’s on the attack from the opening ball check and proceeds to score 19 of the 21 Barry points. The Ferrys seem confused about whether they should utilize their size or do what comes natural—drift to the perimeter. The confusion and inability to defend Rick are the key reasons they lose: 8-21.
Up next is the Bryant bracket which was closely observed by Hamilton (@rh_asme):
Being the #1 overall seed comes with the weight of pressure, expectation. It’s easy to see how a group of amateurs between the ages of 18 and 22 might fall victim to that weight; but not the #1 overall seed in this tournament – the Bryant tandem of Joe and Kobe. Everyone knows Kobe’s bio … Joe (Jellybean) is probably mostly known, even as a player, for being Kobe’s pops. But the dude could play some ball too. The Davis duo is made up of current Memphis Grizzly Ed, and his old man Terry. Ed Davis has his moments, but aside from those, his ceiling is likely a rotation player. Terry and Ed Davis go roughly the same size at 6’9 and 225. Terry played from 89-01 (no shit?), mostly for Dallas and never on a playoff team. Jellybean measures up a lanky 6’9 at 185. Jellybean was a member of the 76-77 Sixers that lost in the Finals to Walton’s Blazers. He and Kobe know how to win, and easily do so here, 21-5. Kobe’s tenacity and Jellybean’s length make the Davises uncomfortable on offense. Kobe scores a breezy 16 of the 21, but Joe’s tip slam over Ed to secure the win is the highlight of the game. Jellybean proudly skips off the court yelling “LaSalle! We up in here!”
Ernest Maurice Vandeweghe Jr and Ernest Maurice Vandeweghe III make up team Vandeweghe. Peter (Press) Maravich and Peter Press Maravich are the 4th seeded Maravichs. Two names shared amongst 4 men – this could get confusing. The elder Vandeweghe goes by Doc (he is a physician) and the younger shall be Kiki. The Maravich’s answer to Press and Pistol. Doc played for the Knicks during the NBA’s infancy from 1949-56 and averaged 9 ppg over his career. His greater contribution to athletics was as chairman of President Ford’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports where he was instrumental in the development and passage of Title IX and the Amateur Athletic Act. Kiki was one hell of a player despite a strange career arc. Press only played his only season of pro ball in 1947 for the Pittsburg Ironmen of the Basketball Association of America (side note: The BAA merged with the NBL in 1949 to form the NBA we know and love today). Pistol is the gem of this matchup and Press is content to stand back and watch his son execute all the things he coached him up to do. Even though Kiki has the most size in this game, he fails to use it to his advantage just as he did in during his pro career (6’8 and only 3.4 rpg) and Pete’s wizardry prevails. Final score: 21-18, Maravichs.
Size vs. speed? It’s an age old basketball question, and great points can be made for the supremacy of either one. In a full court game, speed is the stronger trait. But this is half court 2 on 2 and as such, speed is less of an asset. The advantage for the Rivers team is the three-point shot. Austin loves to chuck but doesn’t do it efficiently. Doc coaches like he played: smart, prepared, even tempered. As teammates, he and Austin are a yin and yang of sorts. Austin’s brash scorer’s mentality and Doc, with his steady thinking man’s approach, have evident chemistry. The Horfords on the other hand are lumbering post players – basketball zombies in this setting. Al has had the misfortune of playing center his entire career when he could do much more as PF. Tito is 7’1 and might appear next to the word stiff in certain dictionaries. He played a mere 63 games over three seasons and is the weakest player in this matchup. The Rivers boys are happy to trade 2s for 3s and utilize the defensive cushion the Horfords must yield to get clean looks. The result is a 21-14 win for Doc and Austin.
Patrick Sr. was a beast around the rim before he fell in love with that baseline jumper. He knew going into this matchup that he’d need to make Wally and Walt pay for showing up in smaller bodies than his. Patrick Jr. is an athlete but doesn’t have a great deal of skill. Wally and Walt are similar players. Both like to shoot A LOT and both are prone to getting real fussy. Walt was notorious in the Long Island pickup circuit for calling phantom fouls on his shots. When he saw that this tournament had real referees, he knew it didn’t bode well for his steez. In the most bizarre game of this quadrant, Wally became enraged over Walt’s excessive shooting and helped Patrick Jr. execute a fundamentally sound double team on his father. The result of that double team was an easy dunk for Patrick Sr. to seal the deal. Spectators could be overheard remarking that they’d never seen Wally give that much effort on a defensive possession. The dysfunction started early, but was over quickly, as Patrick and Patrick moved on with a 21-8 win.
Jacob (@jacobjbg) reached deep into the recesses of his imagination to take on the Rose/Walker bracket:
Walker/Rose (1-seed) vs Vaughns (8-seed):
Internet research yielded little information about the David Vaughns, except that David Jr. went from being an NBA champion (he was on the 1997-98 Bulls) to being homeless. So there’s that. Instead, we can (and probably should) look at the basics here: the David Vaughns are plodding journeymen power forwards (Senior is 6’11’’, Junior is 6’9’’) who have six years of professional experience combined, and never averaged double figures in anything, while Jimmy Walker and Jalen were both quick, dynamic scoring guards who could penetrate and shoot from the outside. I feel fairly safe giving this game to Jimmy and Jalen (provided they’re on speaking terms; Jimmy played no role in Jalen’s upbringing). 21-10 Walker/Rose.
N/D Smith (4-seed) vs Brewers (5-seed):
This seems like it would be the most entertaining matchup in the Walker/Rose bracket; a high-flying, quick-paced guard-fest. Derek would likely have to carry Nolan on offense, who has not found his stroke in the bigs. Derek, as it turned out, was averaging nearly 24 points per game for the 1985 Kings before he blew out his knee. Ron and Ronnie Brewer would perhaps be in a similar situation (his dad averaged a little over 10 a game for a few seasons), so it’d be scrappy and fun. In the end, Ronnie will shut down Nolan, and the Dad-off will produce a 21-17 victory for the Brewers. Upset city!
Mikans (3-seed) vs Paxsons (6-seed):
I remember playing YMCA ball back in the day. The coach’s kid was on the team with me, and he wasn’t all that great as a basketball player. Of course, Coach Dad ran him at the point, and drew up a bunch of plays for him, none of which really ever worked. You could tell the kid really didn’t like playing basketball; it must’ve been something that his dad forced him to get into, and here he was, 10 years later, still getting shouted at by Coach Dad to care about something that clearly was an incidental – perhaps even forced – interest. You almost see the same situation in the Mikans in this tournament. Father George was the Shaq of his era; the first modern pivot whose dominance led to the widening of the lane and the shot clock. Son Larry played one year of pro ball with the Cavs, averaging 3 points per game in about 10 minutes per game. There couldn’t be a bigger talent (and motivational) gap possible. So, you can imagine the ire George would show when the 6th seeded Paxsons – a renegade family of sharpshooters – step up and beat the Mikans 21-19, with George scoring 18 of their 19 total points. It’s gonna be a quiet, tense ride home in the Mikan Chevy Windstar.
Waltons (2-seed) vs Mannings (7-seed):
This would probably be the best game in the bracket if soft tissue, ligaments, and bones didn’t exist, and we were all Rubber Men instead. Both Bill and Luke Walton lost partial or entire seasons due to various ailments in their backs, knees, ankles, shoulders and feet. And though Ed Manning seems to have been fairly durable, Danny’s disappointing career (considering he was the #1 overall pick out of Kansas) was due to a series of blown out knees. So we’ll all cringe and look away as Waltons and Mannings smash into each other, joints creaking and bones clattering, all the way to a spirited 22-20 victory for the Waltons on a sneaky little jumper from Luke Walton. Father Bill will say “this was the greatest two-on-two match in the history of basketblog fantasies” and then go off to find some ganj.
Bug (@bugfoster515) had the final quadrant and after spending an evening downing beers with him, I walked away convinced he’ll be the first person I know to purchase a Dolph Schayes jersey and spent the evening asking anyone with even a shred of basketball knowledge, “What’s your opinion on Dolph Schayes?” My morning was capped off by his text message referring to Schayes as “Bill Russell minus the defense.” Likely an absurd statement, but it does a great job conveying Bug’s newfound fondness for Dolph.
The Thompson’s possess one of the most potent inside/outside combos in the tournament, and they come into this matchup as heavy favorites. The 1978 #1 overall draft pick, Mychal, is a physical specimen with an athletic 6-10 frame, while Klay provides a silky shooting touch from downtown. On the other side, Rex is no slouch either. He was a two-time dunk contest entrant and dropped 39 on Jordan and Pippen (and got a W) in the midst of the Bulls 72-10 season. His father, Wayne’s career as a pro was short-lived, but he had great success coach winning two NCAA D-II championships. The Thompson’s gameplan was clear from the opening check, let Mychal do work on Wayne. The 6-10 giant is simply too much for the 6’6” Wayne to handle in the paint. They didn’t even need Klay’s shooting to roll to a 21-7 victory. Never the one to pass up a chance to teach his son to do the right thing, Mychal gave Klay an advance on his weekly allowance to treat the Chapmans to a couple of Gatorades after the game.
Tim/Tim Jr. Hardaway (4-seed) vs. Gerald/Gerald Jr. Henderson (5-seed):
His anti-gay comments aside, Tim Hardaway was one of the best PGs in the NBA during the 90s. The fact that the Hardaways still got a 4-seed despite the fact Tim Jr. hasn’t been drafted yet speaks to the level of his game. Little did the Hardaway’s know, they were in for an all-out war against the fundamentally sound Hendersons. The Hardaway’s jumped on them early with a barrage of 3s, but Gerald Sr. (a starter on the ‘84 Celtics championship team), and his son would not go down without a fight. They clawed their way back into the game with solid defense, and a slight mismatch in Gerald Jr.’s favor against the leaner Tim Jr. With the game tied 19-19, Gerald Sr. comes through on the defensive end like he did in the 84 playoffs, strips Tim Sr. on a pull-up attempt, and hits a cutting young Gerald for the 21-19 victory.
Dell/Steph Curry (3-seed) vs. John II/John III Lucas (6-seed):
Insulted by the 3-seed they received, the Currys came out breathing fire to prove a point against their first opponent, the Lucas’. The Currys come equipped with the most lethal outside shooting touch of all the father/son combos, and the smallish (5’11”) Lucas III is just too small to bother either Curry’s stroke. While John Lucas II’s turnaround from drug addict to NBA head coach was a feel-good story in the 90s, there was not a happy ending for the Lucas’ in this one. The Currys put on a fireworks show going 7-10 from deep to roll to a 21-10 victory without attempting a single shot inside the 3-point line. This game was a blowout, but at least we got to check out Dell’s wife, Sonya, on the jumbotron between points.
The Matthews’ come into this matchup with a distinct advantage in the speed and quickness department, while the Schayes’ overwhelming size advantage (6’1”/6’5” vs. 6’7”/6’11”) is their biggest weapon. Dolph is one of the best forwards in NBA history as a 12-time all-star and Hall of Fame inductee, and his son Danny was also 18-year NBA vet who went to battle in the paint against the likes of Olajuwon, Ewing and David Robinson in his day (although nowhere near their skill level). Despite the Schayes’ enormous size advantage in the paint, Dolph caught the Matthews’ off guard with his outside shooting skills by using his patented 50s-style two-hand set shot that he releases without lifting his feet off the ground (like some shit straight out of Hoosiers). The only way the Matthews’ have a chance in this one is if they use their perimeter skills and quickness, but the Schayes’ know that Wes Sr. has a sketchy outside jumper (career 23% from 3) and dare him to shoot all game. The plan worked to perfection, and the Schayes’ rolled to an easy 21-9 win.
To be completely honest, I’m surprised with the outcome of some of the matchups. I thought for sure the Vandeweghes would advance and the Paxsons over the Mikans was a stunner, but these are the breaks of the father/son two-on-two tournament. The most intriguing matchup of the second round looks like the patented Curry marksmanship vs. the mismatch of the Schayes’. Vegas doesn’t have odds yet, but it’ll be fascinating to see if the length and versatility of Dolph and Danny can throw off the momentum of Dell and Steph.