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Just messing around, getting triple doubles
April 7, 2013Posted by on
As we wind down this 2012-13 season, Dancing with Noah has just a few planned posts remaining. Like the entire “Guess I’m Strange” series, there’s potential for players in the league to deliver these unexpected, incomprehensible performances that kick and push me into exploring said performance in brief write-ups. So while there are just a handful of posts to go, who can say what tomorrow will bring?
Before the season, if someone would’ve put us all in a room: A great big ballroom for basketball fans with chandeliers that have mini basketballs for light bulbs and chairs covered with the worn, dimpled leather of a basketball, and asked us two questions, none of us likely would’ve answered anywhere near correctly for these specific questions:
- Who will lead the league in 20/20 (points and rebounds) games?
- Who will come out on top of the Dwight Howard/Andrew Bynum megadeal?
The answer to number two is abstract and can’t be measured today or tomorrow or yesterday, but I can write, with a fair amount of certainty, that Doug Collins is as frustrated with the results of that trade as anyone and that’s saying something given the complete shitshow it’s turned into for the Lakers. The reason for Collins’s frustration can’t be limited to Bynum’s health concerns or Andre Iguodala’s continued consistency in Denver. Nay, it must take into account the accelerated development of the league’s leader in 20/20 games and the answer to question number above: Nikola Vucevic: a 22-year-old listed at 6’10”, 240lbs, but who looks to be a solid 7’0”, 250lbs+ and rebounds with the competency of an all-pro.
Regardless of your fondness or Rob Henningan’s fondness or the fondness of Vucevic’s own parents for his development this season, none of us expected this type of growth and development. Keep in mind, Vucevic, didn’t even arrive in the states until 2007. He averaged 12rpg as a senior in high school and never over 10.3rpg in his three seasons at USC. He showed promise as an NBA rookie averaging 10.9rpg over 36min/game, but nothing, not even his lineage (his dad Borislav was a pro player for 24 years—24!), predicated this season’s rebounding explosion.
So it was that we arrived at the Magic-Cavs game on this Sunday afternoon and saw the developing Vucevic take advantage of a bruised and battered Cavs team to the tune of 21 points and 21 rebounds for his league-leading third 20/20 game of the season.
Nikola Vucevic: Catching NBA fans off guard since 2012.
April 4, 2013Posted by on
In the midst of all the Father/Sonning that’s been going on here at Dancing with Noah, real life actual NBA games are still going on and that means players are still doing strange things at strange times. Last night I was out and about until 9:30 PST and when I arrived home, I saw this intriguing stat line by Spain’s own wonderchild, the imaginative visionary Ricky Rubio: 19pts with 5-6 from deep, 12 assists and 8 steals. Say word? Word.
It’s pretty damn phenomenal if you start wrapping your head around it and not just in NBA historical terms (as you’ll see below, Rubio’s the only player in league history to accomplish 12sasts/8stls/5 3s in the same game), but in Rubio terms as well. A little over a year ago on March 9th 2012, the rookie Rubio, all of 21 years-old, tore his ACL. At that time, his career highs in the aforementioned stats were 14 assists, 6 steals and 2 3s. And in the 49 games he’s played this year he hadn’t bested any of those career highs. Then last night shows up and the Bucks and maybe some Brandon Jennings, maybe some Monta Ellis, maybe some JJ Redick are splayed wide open in front of an attacking Rubio who didn’t just exceed his career-high of 2 3s, but more than doubled it. The steals are equally impressive for this opportunistic defender who’s been averaging over 2.5 steals/game from February to now. And all this occurred in a mere 34 minutes of play.
In the spirit of keeping things fresh and avoiding that stale cracker (no racial reference) texture, I guess Ricky’s strange:
April 4, 2013Posted by on
Here we are in mid-April and the first ever NBA Father/Son Two-on-Two tournament is in full swing. As we head into the second round of this once-in-a-lifetime imaginary five-round tournament, we’ve been privy to teasing, taunts, familial rivalry, allusions to cannabis consumption, controlling parents and meanderings deep into the digitized vaults of Youtube.
16 teams remain and by the time you get done reading this post we’ll have cut that list in half and arrived at the Great(est) Eight father/son combos as contrived by this batch of misfit writers.
First up, I’m tackling the Bryant Quadrant:
A couple of shot-taking, head-faking, basket-making sons steal the spotlight here. I remember being a kid and watching a biopic about a young Pete Maravich, The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend. My memories are of a sappy, Hollywood flick and a little white kid with a crew cut who would walk through the entire town spinning a ball on his finger. It doesn’t matter if this actually happened or not; the point was clear: the myth of Pistol Pete was greater than Maravich could ever actually be. And so it is in this father/son battle where Kobe finds himself being motivated by a combination of Jordanesque perceived slights and the surprisingly shrewd prods of his father who tells Kobe before the game, “I heard the Pistol saying you’re not even top-10 all-time….in Lakers history.” Kobe’s appalled, incensed, bites at his jersey, thrusts out his under bite, flares his nostrils while Jellybean grins to himself relishing the skills he picked up as a WNBA coach. Press Maravich is a non-factor and the Maravich family is destroyed by Kobe’s fury and the Bryant’s superior athleticism. The number one overall seed advances: 21-10.
In the first game we saw a couple of sons take the spotlight, but in the later game, it’s a pair of dads from the 80s that dictate the flow which escalated into a war of sorts between Glenn “Doc” Rivers and former teammate Patrick Ewing. As a master motivator, Doc is in his son’s ear throughout warm-ups. He pokes, prods, he encourages, he’s builds up and up and up: “You played more games in your first month in the league than Patrick’s kid played in his entire career.” Young Rivers’ confidence is visibly growing while young Ewing shrinks—and this is before the game. No one, especially not this observer, was surprised to see Austin Rivers attack Ewing Jr. from the opening check, but what stood out was the physicality with which Doc delivered on Ewing Sr. The Ewing game-plan was painfully obvious: dump it into Sr. and let him work. Old Patrick got his buckets, but he had to earn every one as Doc reached, stripped, hacked, hipped, bumped and reminded Patrick of why he loved that turnaround so damn much. In the end, the speed and quickness of the Rivers’ was enough to pull out the tournament’s first overtime victory: 23-20 on bomb from 25-feet from Austin. After hitting the game-winner, Austin, mockingly asked, “Patrick!?!?!”
This time around, Jacob (@jacobjbg) tackled the surreal Barry quadrant:
Going into the match, there was some uncertainty about whether the Barrys could hold seed and defeat the upstart Loves. Kevin was balling out of his mind, and despite Stan’s limited skills, mind and mustache game were both formidable. But it was all over from the very start. As Stan checked the ball in to Rick, he committed the cardinal sin: trash talking an insecure San Francisco resident. “Yeah, you may have averaged 25 points per game for your career, but you didn’t even crack single digits in the sack for your career total!” Stan’s taunts rang through the gym, reverberating through tense silence. “Know why you didn’t get laid, Rick?” Stan asked. Rick stared back at him, hard. “It’s because you were bald around both your heads! Ya dig?!” Stan shouted gleefully, spun around disco-style, stroked his awesome mustache and got into a defensive stance. That was that. Rick calmly lined up a three, drained it, and stared back at Stan. “Three-nothing, you nobody,” Rick hissed. It was on. A man possessed, Rick had a game for the ages: 19 points, 17 rebounds, and one begrudging assist to a frazzled Brent on their way to 21-15 victory in a game that was never close. Never trash talk a Top-50 All-Time player, especially about their follicle regions.
Jon/Rick Barry (1-seed) vs. Mike/Henry Bibby (6-seed):
Though Rick would never tell you himself, he greatly preferred playing with Jon over Brent. There was a reason Jon worked for ESPN: he was a shill. He’d do whatever his superior said, no questions asked. Always hard working, and simple in a sort of lovable way. Though Jon can shoot, he knows his dad can shoot better. And his dad, still feeling sort of miffed about the shenanigans of Stan Love, is all too happy to keep shooting. This time the shots don’t fall as freely — Barry yells “Goddamned shame!” each time his shot clanks off the rim — and the Bibbys are able to use their speed to penetrate and get buckets. It’s a close one, but in the end, Jon gets enough second chances under the rim over the smaller Mike Bibby to snag the win, 21-18. Rick finishes with 17 points in this one, but an even tougher choice: which son will he choose in the finals?
In round two, Bug (@bugfoster515) gets the Walker/Rose bracket:
After breezing by the David Vaughns in the first round, the Walker/Rose duo faces a much stiffer competition in the second round against the Brewers. The Brewers come in with confidence oozing from their pores after a mild upset of the Smiths in their first round. There’s no advantage physically as the dads and sons measure up equally from a size and athleticism standpoint. The clear advantage lies in the offensive firepower of Rose/Walker. The Brewers, known as role players/defensive stoppers, just can’t keep up offensively enough to pull off another upset. Ronnie does a good job keeping Jalen in check, but once Jimmy Walker starts putting on his moves the Detroit duo pulls away for a 21-15 win.
And call this name dropping all you want, but basketball sage Peter Vecsey (@petervecsey1) picked Walker/Rose as his greatest father/son combo of all-time:
Luke/Bill Walton (2-seed) vs. Jim Jr & John/JonPaxson (6-seed):
No one expected the Paxsons to be here after facing off against the Mikans in the first round, but like the great sport of boxing, matchups make fights. The Paxsons find themselves in a similar matchup against the Waltons. They’re at a huge disadvantage in the size department going against one of the NBA’s all-time great big men in Bill Walton, so they will once again rely on outside shooting to attempt pulling off another upset. Unlike the slow, prodding Mikans, the Waltons can move on defense and bring much more offensive diversity. Any true hoops fan that has read The Breaks of the Game, knows that Walton in his prime (on the rare occasion he wasn’t injured) could carry a team and do it all. The Paxons were able to hit a few threes to keep it close early, but Jim Paxson Sr. (only played two years in the NBA before going into the insurance business) trying to guard Bill Walton was almost as silly as Mark Cuban drafting Brittney Griner to play in the NBA. The Waltons basketball IQ and overall skill level was too much for the overmatched Paxsons. Waltons keep truckin’ to victory with a 21-13 win.
And Hamilton (@rh_asme) gets one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the second round: Schayes vs. Currys:
This second round matchup featured the top seed in the quadrant, the Thompsons, squaring off against the 5th seeded Hendersons. The Thompsons feature the truest inside-outside threat in the field and set out to utilize Mychal’s size to their advantage. With an array of pick and rolls and slips, the Thompsons looked like a machine oiled up for a long run. Klay’s 3 point shot at 6’7” with Mychal’s length and strength allowed them to cruise to an easy 21-12 win. As one might expect, the Hendersons competed on both sides of the ball but were simply outgunned. This was a bad matchup for 6’2” and 6’5” Gerald and Gerald and the upset just wasn’t meant to be.
This wasn’t the first matchup of contrasting styles in the father/son field and it probably won’t be the last. The Currys are always confident in their shooting and for good reason. Coming off a 7-10 3-pt performance in round one it was clear going into the game that the three-ball would be the Currys’ biggest advantage. Predictably (though not in a bad way), the Schayes focused on playing the game as close to the basket as possible. On each of their offensive possessions, Dolph checked the ball and backed his Curry into the paint (Mark Jackson style) before deciding upon shot or pass. It was one of the oddest two man games you’ll see, but it was effective. As noted earlier, the Currys intended to replicate their round 1 game plan by focusing on their three-point shot, pulling the defenders away from the paint and spacing out to allow room for each other to drive. Unfortunately, when teams live by the three, they die by the three. And tonight, the Currys father/son title hopes died on a 4-14 3-point shooting performance. After the game, Danny Schayes said, “We knew they’d be willing to trade 2s for 3s, so we had to make sure we finished in the paint and contested their shots. Luckily from us they weren’t as sharp as they were in round one … this could have easily been a different game.” Final score 21-14, Schayes advance to the Great(est) Eight.
True to NBA form, upsets have been fleeting. Just a single under-seeded team has advanced to the quarterfinals: The Rivers’. Nothing was too surprising coming out of the second round except the contrasting motivational techniques used by the Doc Rivers and Jellybean Bryant. One propped his son up while the other motivated through chopping down. As we step into the semi-final round the most intriguing matchup in the bracket is the Barry family quadrant where Rick/Brent will face off against Rick/Jon. We’ve seen a lot of Barry-fueled aggression already so I can’t wait to see how Rick Barry deals with the complexity of Rick Barry. Other questions to ponder as you lie in bed struggling to doze off at night:
- · Can the tenuous relationships of the Bryants hold?
- · Will the Walker/Rose combo confront issues of abandonment?
- · Will Jerry Garcia magically leap forth from the afterlife to support the Walton boys?
- · Is Mychal Thompson capable of allowing his son the freedom necessary to develop into his own man?
These questions and more will be answered next week when we play out the semi-finals of the greatest of Two-on-Two tournament this side of White Men Can’t Jump.
April 1, 2013Posted by on
As we enter into the Father/Son quarter-finals, I think it’s worthwhile mentioning some of the shenanigans that have gone on behind the scenes of this ongoing battle for familial pride. The day of the first-round of games, fathers and sons showed up in an a variety of ways: Dads driving sons, sons driving dads, moms driving fathers and sons, fathers and sons arriving in separate cars, chauffeured rides, etc. There were even a few sketchy scenes like the one below which was recounted to me by one of the tournament officials:
These two guys show up and you can tell one is clearly wearing a wig. And, well, I’ve been around the game a long time, long enough to know Horace and Harvey Grant when I see them—even under that corny wig. So the Grant twins are there and they’re already looking sneaky, but looking guilty and nervous, you know? Horace was wearing some goofy-colored goggles, you know those rec-specs he used to wear? Meanwhile, Harvey’s in the back, peaking out around a corner and this silly wig keep dropping down into his eyes. I’m thinking, what’re these knuckleheads up to? So Eddie Rush is managing the registration and he knows all these guys too. You know he started officiating back in the 60s. He knows the Grants. I swear; I don’t know what these guys thought would happen, but here’s how it goes down:
Ed Rush: Horace, is that you?
Horace, (in a voice that obviously wasn’t his natural voice): Nah, nah, this ain’t Horace.
Rush: Take off those goggles.
Rush: What you trying to do?
Horace: I got me some chumps in this father-son tournament. Let me get by.
Rush: Get the fuck out.
Horace: Alright, look man, you need some twins. There are some crazy fathers and sons in this tournament … lot crazier than me.
Rush: No. Everyone knows there’s no father-son Grants. You think I’m stupid? You think all these people are stupid?
Harvey Grant, walking up from behind a corner where he’d been observing the interaction: Come on, Horace, let’s go.
The Grants sauntered off dejectedly with some of the father/son tandems (named the Currys, Mychal Thompson, and Rose/Walker) sparing no expense to clown them on their walk of shame out of the gym. Subsequent calls to the Grants and their representatives have either been ignored or rejected with a curt “No Comment.”
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.
March 20, 2013Posted by on
As I sit down to write this introduction, I can tell you with the utmost honesty that I never intended to create an imaginary bracket during March Madness. I actually considered pushing this out into the off-season, but some ideas grab hold and refuse to let go and that’s what’s occurred here.
The premise is this: In NBA history, there have been some 50-odd father/son combos including a few dads that spawned more than one NBA-playing son (looking at you Rick Barry and Jim Paxson Sr). I started wondering what would happen if those father/son combos laced up the kicks for a good old fashioned two-on-two tournament. There are a lot of questions you have to ask yourself when embarking on an endeavor like this, but I decided to keep it simple: 32 teams, single elimination tournament.
The participants: Due to death, mortality and the plain impossibility of a real-life father/son tournament, the whole thing has to be played out in the minds and imaginations of actual, living human beings. I’ve invited a couple long-time friends of mine: Hamilton (@rh_asme) and Bug (@bugfoster515 – he doesn’t really know how to tweet though, so don’t bother following him) and new friend: Jacob Greenberg (@jacobjbg) from www.TheDiss.com.
The approach: We started with a list of 51 NBA fathers and sons plus Tim Hardaway and his son, current Michigan Wolverine, Tim Hardaway Jr. The list also includes Rick/Brent Barry and Rick/Jon Barry, but not Rick/Drew Barry. Likewise, the Paxson family actually has three players and rotates in sons Jim Jr. and John. The task at hand was to whittle this list of 52 down to 32 which was more difficult than one would think. I’ve followed the league since the late 80s and have always been a fan of the history. I consider myself to be relatively well-versed in players who’ve come and gone, but the list of dads led to a lot of basketball-reference and Wikipedia lookups. Hamilton, Bug and I each ranked the top-32 teams. This was a completely subjective process so if you feel that say, Brian Cook and his father Norm should’ve made the top-32 and you think we’re nuts for leaving them out, we acknowledge that you know something about Norm Cook that the stats (27 career games, 2.4 career ppg) didn’t tell us. And this was the case at times (see the David Vaughns). Once ranked, I did a simple aggregate to arrive at a final rank which indicated the overall seeds you’ll see below. For teams that weren’t ranked, I assigned them a completely arbitrary rank of 37 just to balance the overall aggregates. The table below includes all 52 father/son combos, the individual rankings and the final aggregate for each father/son:
|Father||Pos||Son(s)||Pos||Bug Rank||Milton Rank||DWN Rank||Agg Rank|
|Joe Bryant||F||Kobe Bryant||SG||2||1||1||1.3|
|Rick Barry||F||Brent Barry||Gs||3||2||2||2.3|
|Jimmy Walker||G||Jalen Rose||G/F||6||4||5||5.0|
|Mychal Thompson||F/C||Klay Thompson||Gs/Fs||1||13||3||5.7|
|Bill Walton||C||Luke Walton||SF||5||6||6||5.7|
|Dolph Schayes||C||Danny Schayes||C||4||11||4||6.3|
|Rick Barry||F||Jon Barry||G||7||3||11||7.0|
|Patrick Ewing||C||Patrick Ewing, Jr.||SF/PF||9||7||7||7.7|
|George Mikan||C||Larry Mikan||F||8||9||9||8.7|
|Dell Curry||G/F||Stephen Curry||G||12||8||8||9.3|
|Gerald Wilkins (aka Doug E. Fresh)||G/F||Damien Wilkins||G/F||10||14||16||13.3|
|Doc Rivers||PG||Austin Rivers||SG||11||15||15||13.7|
|Tim Hardaway||PG||Tim Hardaway Jr.||SG||17||12||14||14.3|
|Stan Love||F||Kevin Love||F||14||10||19||14.3|
|Derek Smith||G/F||Nolan Smith||G||13||19||13||15.0|
|Press Maravich||G||Pete Maravich||G||15||5||27||15.7|
|Ron Brewer (aka Boot)||G||Ronnie Brewer||G/F||18||18||12||16.0|
|Gerald Henderson||PG||Gerald Henderson, Jr.||SG||20||22||17||19.7|
|Mike Dunleavy, Sr.||PG||Mike Dunleavy, Jr.||SF||16||25||22||21.0|
|Ernie Vandeweghe||G/F||Kiki Vandeweghe||F||29||25||10||21.3|
|Henry Bibby||PG||Mike Bibby||PG||27||16||21||21.3|
|John Lucas II||PG||John Lucas III||PG||28||21||18||22.3|
|Jim Paxson, Sr.||F||Jim Paxson, John Paxson||Gs||22||17||30||23.0|
|Tito Horford||C||Al Horford||F/C||23||24||24||23.7|
|Bob Ferry||C/F||Danny Ferry||PF||19||27||26||24.0|
|Walt Szczerbiak||F||Wally Szczerbiak||SF||30||23||23||25.3|
|Ed Manning||F||Danny Manning||F||21||31||28||26.7|
|Wes Matthews||G||Wesley Matthews||SG||24||24||37||28.3|
|Wayne Chapman||G/F||Rex Chapman||SG||26||30||31||29.0|
|Walt Piatkowski||F||Eric Piatkowski||SF||25||26||37||29.3|
|Terry Davis||F||Ed Davis||F||32||28||29||29.7|
|David Vaughn, Jr.||C||David Vaughn III||F||37||20||32||29.7|
|Scott May||F||Sean May||PF||37||29||25||30.3|
|Leroy Ellis||C||LeRon Ellis||C||37||37||20||31.3|
|Darren Daye||G/F||Austin Daye||F||31||37||37||35.0|
|Milt Wagner||G||Dajuan Wagner||PG||37||32||37||35.3|
|Wali Jones||G||Askia Jones||F||37||37||37||37.0|
|Rod Higgins||F/C||Cory Higgins||G||37||37||37||37.0|
|Sidney Green||PF||Taurean Green||PG||37||37||37||37.0|
|George Karl||G||Coby Karl||G/F||37||37||37||37.0|
|Butch van Breda Kolff||G/F||Jan van Breda Kolff||G/F||37||37||37||37.0|
|Earle Higgins||F||Sean Higgins||SF||37||37||37||37.0|
|Al McGuire||G/F||Allie McGuire||G||37||37||37||37.0|
|Bill Hosket, Sr.||C||Bill Hosket, Jr.||F/C||37||37||37||37.0|
|Al Salvadori||F||Kevin Salvadori||C||37||37||37||37.0|
|Jeff Taylor||PG||Jeffery Taylor||SF||37||37||37||37.0|
|Walker Russell||SG||Walker Russell, Jr.||PG||37||37||37||37.0|
|Norm Cook||F||Brian Cook||PF||37||37||37||37.0|
|Rich Dumas||G||Richard Dumas||SF||37||37||37||37.0|
|Matt Guokas, Sr.||F||Matt Guokas, Jr.||SG||37||37||37||37.0|
|Leo Rautins||F||Andy Rautins||G||37||37||37||37.0|
|Tony Price||G||A. J. Price||G||37||37||37||37.0|
Again, the process of ranking the father/son combos was more challenging than I thought it would be. Along the way, I learned some random information about dads (Nolan Smith’s dad Derek died of a heart attack at the age of 34, Ernie Vandeweghe [father to Kiki] was a pro basketball player, an Air Force pilot and a physician, Gerald Wilkins’s nickname was Doug E. Fresh), but mostly learned that guys like the aforementioned Derek Smith and LeRoy Ellis were strong pros that were either overshadowed by bigger names who came along at the same time or were just forgotten over time.
Jacob’s Rankings: Per my email instructions, Jacob selected 32 teams to be included in the tournament, ambivalent of ranking/seeding. The result was a handful of teams on Jacob’s list that didn’t appear on anyone else’s and thus wouldn’t have impacted the overall seeding at all with the exception of the Mays (Scott and Sean). Depending on how the Mays would’ve been ranked and how Jacob would’ve ranked some of the lower teams (the Piatkowski’s, Davis’s, Vaughn’s or Chapman’s), things may have turned out a bit differently, but for the sake of our exercise, I won’t make any changes here. Just know that The Diss is well-represented and involved.
After all that methodology talk, let’s move onto the brackets and the first round matchups:
Stay tuned for a deeper analysis of the first round matchups, recaps, father/son dynamics, teamwork challenges and so much more in the follow-up edition to the NBA Father-Son Two-on-Two Tournament. And if you’re familiar with any of the dads on the list (aside from the obvious Ewings, Waltons, Barrys, etc) and have stories or specific details, let us know.
March 19, 2013Posted by on
23 in a row! Crown the kings! Plan the parade! The season is over!
“It’s only March,” cried the masses, “you front-running posers!”
We looked to Riley, pomading his hair. He consulted a calendar, made a few calls.
The season wasn’t done, “Let’s practice, get out the balls!”
“Not those balls, Bird!” and the team had a laugh
They played catch for a bit, then sat at the chalkboard and worked on the math
“23 wins in 23 games, 100% success, now isn’t that great?”
Asked Juwan and Mike Miller as they calculated the rate
“23 is the number that I used to wear,”
Said a goofing LeBron, but nobody cared
Spoelstra diagrammed and analyzed equations
While Chalmers and Cole were mesmerized by chalk dust, “amazin’”
Meanwhile in China, McGrady poo-poo’d and moaned
Over in Boston, Jet Terry clutched his aching back and groaned
Video replay showed the Death Machine flying without wings
Riley used a Chinese calculator to tabulate his rings
In the locker room where they filmed the famous Shake
The team gathered around the schedule looking for a mistake
Nope, the games were all there, everything was all clear
The Cavs were on Wednesday, there was nothing to fear
“Going home, going home where they love and hate me so much”
Sang a balding LeBron while Bosh made up his lunch
Then it’s the Pistons, Bobcats and Orlando
“For that last one, I just might go Commando”
Said a chucking Birdman while he sketched a new tattoo
And Battier hummed that he was feeling blue
About what he wouldn’t say
After all it was Pierce’s copious behind that ended the game the previous day
Wilt the Stilt rolled over in his grave
Passing along ill-intentioned curses that the Heat would misbehave
Jerry West laughed and said they had a nice run
But he hoped that the boys from Miami could continue their fun
If you love them, it was a blast, but if not you hated
And only a Heat loss would leave you satiated
Screw off LeBron and you too Dwyane Wade
Superstars or not, you’re both overpaid
Why so much anger and blood curdling envy?
They’re just playing and winning and Shane seems so sophisticated and friendly
“But what happens if we get to 24, 5 or 6?”
Asked little Chalmers, his face in a twist
Everyone hushed and looked on at old Riley who lit up a fat stogie
Stared back at the team and puffed out so slowly
“It’s not a title, but it’s more and it’s less
Little Mario Chalmers, consider yourself blessed”
23 couplets for 23 wins
It sure is something and no one can say if we’ll see it again
March 17, 2013Posted by on
The usual elements were in place for something statistically outlandish to happen on Saturday night, March 16th, 2013: An NBA game with little-to-no discernible historic purpose shaded over by an eye-catching stat line from Seattle’s favorite Republican NBA player: Spencer Hawes:
The game: Central Division-leading Indiana Pacers at the Andrew Bynum-less Philadelphia 76ers
The Matchup: Roy Hibbert vs. Spencer Hawes
The Assumption: Hibbert and Hawes guarded each other (I wasn’t present for the game and didn’t see the matchups, so this will remain an assumption).
The line: Spencer Hawes: 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 blocks
The history: Hawes becomes just the sixth player since the 1985-86 season to accomplish the 18 x 16 x 8 x 7 line:
As is often the case with these abnormal stat lines, the company Hawes just joined is about as decorated as you can get. Every other player on the list has won the MVP award and there are a total of 11 NBA championships between them. The games listed above are games for the ages; the numbers pop off the page and while they’re random in every sense of the word, each time this particular line has occurred, it’s resulted in a win.
Beyond honoring Hawes for his performance on Saturday night I want to acknowledge a couple of things about Charles Barkley. For starters, he’s the only guy on the list under 6’11”. Barkley blocked seven shots in a game? And in the same game he wrecked the 86-87 Trail Blazers for 31pts, 21rebs and 9asts? I shake my head at numbers like this. If it happened today, we’d be discourteously shoving each other out of the way to anoint his game as one of the best of all time. To add a little more to the bizarro element of Barkley’s performance: He didn’t even start.
As much as I want to dive deeper into the on-court life of Charles Barkley, the emphasis is on the magnificence of Spencer Hawes on this strange spring night in 2013.
March 16, 2013Posted by on
Deep in the bowels of the Rose Garden
Lays a mausoleum, a skeleton-less, mummy-free catacomb
Where memories and dreams are Laid to rest Bill Walton, Sam Bowie, Brandon Roy, Greg Oden
Their starched jerseys stretched across the walls in black, red and white, permanent defiance
Paul Allen and the sons and daughters of Portland weep when they remember
Clyde and Rick Adelman and Jack Ramsey are helpless to ease their pain
But what if hope landed in PDX in a
Lithe, lean, young point guard from Oakland
What if he was stolen out from under the inquisitive eyes of the analysts, the
Noses of the scouts who know
Talent when they see it
A sequence of events as fruitfully unexpected as prior tragedies had been unfairly unfortunate
Damian Lillard, not the flashy teenage prodigy or the
Entitled one and done junior maestro whose destiny is interwoven within NBA
Damian, Dame, with his boyishly angelic face barely sprouting whiskers
Psalm 37 inked down his left arm in an expression of his faith
Reflected in his discipline and patience to
Wait it out in Ogden (to work it out in Ogden) while his peers bounded towards riches (?), professionalism, fame and the
Trappings that have become cliché
And waited in Ogden at the feet of hills and mountains, a cultural antithesis from the haunts of Oakland
While Portland languished through the inconceivability that Brandon Roy’s knees were without
Cartilage, just bone grinding on bone until the inevitability that Brandon’s knees couldn’t
Ever hold up
But that’s past now
Wearing number zero, zed, O—for Ogden, O-for Oakland,
O for the emptiness Portland can leave behind
Lillard is here with his mature pick-and-roll game, a generously balanced blending of inside-outside-all-inclusive
involvement that breathes anticipation and excitement into Portland’s sons and daughters
And for today and tomorrow allows Paul Allen the
Respite to forget and lock up the gates that provide entry to the
Dark, dank cemetery of dreams that sits in quiet and peace deeply forgotten beneath the Rose Garden
March 13, 2013Posted by on
I think it was a couple weeks ago after yet another hopeless Andrew Bynum update that I started ideating about a post chronicling the beginning-to-present saga of Bynum’s disappointing tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers. The comments below were easy enough to compile, but the format proved to be more challenging than I would’ve liked. I tried my hand at Storify, the web-based platform that allows users to aggregate social media and/or content into a single, cohesive story. It’s a beautiful presentation, much prettier than what you’ll find below, but it failed to suit my needs, so I’ve laid out the ongoing dialogue between Bynum, the Sixers organization and the media as it’s played out over the past eight months in the form of quotes, injury updates, speculation and frustration. My comments are included throughout.
*Prior warning: It’s a longish post that at times feels repetitive. I’ve bolded areas that I’ve found amusing, disturbing, intriguing and insightful.
The trade was finalized on August 10th, 2012 and these are the first comments we get:
Andrew Bynum: “I’m leaning toward making this my home.” – 8/15/2012
Andrew Bynum: “I went through the whole season last year and didn’t have any setbacks…As of right now, my knees feel good.” – 8/16/12
Dancing with Noah (DWN): That comment about his knees seems ominously jinxing. I’m not the superstitious type, but given the benefit of hindsight, Bynum should’ve kept those comments to himself.
Doug Collins (Philly coach): “The day of the press conference we went back and he, I and Jason Richardson spent some time together along with some of the other people in the organization and I think for Drew, I think a big part of him is he’s excited to be coming home. He was out in LA and I don’t think he ever really fit into the LA scene. I talked to him the other day and he was ready to go over to Germany to have the little procedure, the little injection done in his knee, he’s gotten home in the country here and is excited to be back near his family and everything like that. I think he’s excited that he’s going to be the primary focus of us playing through the post rather than being the third option in LA. He’s a very smart and bright guy, he’s articulate, he knows the game and we talked a little bit about it. Sometimes you say things and I think even he would agree that some of the things that he said came across maybe being a little immature a couple of times. He knows the play on JJ Barea is going to be seen forever and he will always be a part of that but I just feel like he’s in a great place.” – 9/12/12
Doug Collins: “When the opportunity to get an Andrew Bynum came about, you have to obviously do that because you can’t get a low-post center of that magnitude. I think all the things we’ve tried to do we’ve accomplished, but more importantly we did it in a way that going forward this organization is not hamstrung with bad contracts, we have flexibility.” – 9/14/12
Doug Collins: “Andrew is an incredibly well-spoken young guy. He’s articulate, he’s bright, he’s smart and he knows the game. I think he’s happy to be home. He just got a place in the suburbs here and said he loves being here on the East Coast. I think he views this as a great opportunity to be viewed as a central figure on a team every single night that’s going to count on him. I think he views this as a step in his career where he really has a chance to show what he’s all about. He’s got a good sense of humor. I feel really good about him.” – 9/14/12
DWN: At this point, over a month into the Bynum era, everything’s going great. Collins has publicly explained the trade, commented on Bynum’s comfort level, brought up his previous challenges with immaturity as a way of highlighting his current maturity level and even applauded the big man’s sense of humor—presumably this was not a reference to Bynum’s ever-evolving hairstyles.
Tom DiLeo (Philly GM): DiLeo: Bynum came back from getting knee injections in Germany last week and “he says he feels very good.” – 9/24/12
Tom DiLeo: “His agent said he wants to come to the surroundings and see the team, see the atmosphere…He’s been very, very happy. His agent said he hasn’t seen him this happy in a long time. I think everything will work out. I think we’ll like Andrew and Andrew will like it here. At the appropriate time, we’ll do the negotiations.” – 9/25/12
DWN: Even if you’re approaching things in late September from a place of cynicism, you have to be feeling semi-good about Bynum in Philadelphia. His few comments have been positive. The coach and GM are thrilled to have the next in a long line of Philly big men that dates back to Wilt, Darryl Dawkins (he was entertaining at least), Moses Malone, Charles Barkley, Dikembe Mutombo and now Bynum. Of course the more cynical of you were saying, “It’s Bynum! It’s only a matter of time before he gets hurt!”
John Mitchell (Reporter for Philadelphia Enquirer): Speaking of Bynum, he looks to be in great condition. He’s trim. He’s engaging his teammates and coaches. And if they were playing games right now, Bynum would be out there. – 10/7/12
Andrew Bynum: “I’m not sure, it’s really up to the trainers and the doctors right now, but I think if all the beans were on the table right now I’d be out there. It definitely feels better. A lot of it has to do with my pain threshold. It’s just to the point where I can’t run up and down with the team right now.” – 10/9/12
DWN: I think this is something, as a fan, journalist or blogger, we’re used to hearing (albeit, in different terms): If it was the playoffs, I’d be playing. Bynum’s “beans on the table” comment is something new and appreciated.
Doug Collins: “I just see he comes in and he’s got the little wrap and the brace on,” said Collins of Bynum’s right knee attire. “He’s out on the floor and he’s spinning and doing some stuff, doing some of the things he couldn’t do before. Plus, I see it in his personality, he’s happier. I think he senses he’s getting closer to play. Anybody that’s ever been injured, especially going to a new team where so much is expected, you want to get out there and play. It’s a downer. He’s worked his tail off. When he’s not watching he’s either doing something on the elliptical or in the weight room working and doing something. You can just sense that he’s feeling better. That’s a positive sign.” – 10/9/12
DWN: Collins continues to remain update and optimistic. After all, it’s still a few weeks from opening tip at this point. As the season goes on, you can feel this hopefulness slipping away not just in Collins’s tone, but also in his empathy towards Bynum.
Doug Collins: “If Andrew misses some games, we’ve got to be prepared to win some games without him,” Collins said prior to Saturday’s game. “Obviously, when he’s out there, our team is going to be a lot different.” – 10/14/12
Doug Collins: “Andrew’s doing well,” Collins said Monday before the Sixers improved their preseason record to 2-1 with a 107-75 victory over Boston at the Wells Fargo Center. “He’s progressing and on track to where I think he hoped he would be at this time. Obviously, the next step for him is getting running and weight-bearing. A lot of that is going to be how he responds to increased activity,” Collins said when asked if Bynum would be ready for the start of the season. “I know how important the home opener is, but we’re not going to do anything silly and have another setback where it costs you and now you have to miss those kinds of games.” – 10/17/12
DWN: I like how Collins is setting and managing expectations regarding Bynum. He’s saying the right things and most importantly, it feels like he’s being honest with the media, fans and himself.
Andrew Bynum: “I think pain and swelling are indications of what’s going on,” Bynum said. “I don’t feel pressure, but psychologically it stinks. It’s tough. I want to come in and help out.” – 10/25/12
Tom DiLeo: “He is improving,” DiLeo said. “It’s nothing new. It’s just not completely healed. It’s our understanding that when this heals, it will be over.” – 10/25/12
Doug Collins: “I have no idea,” Collins said. “It’s all hypothetical. We’re not going to look over at (Bynum as) a lifeline. If this team feels like we can’t win without him, we won’t win.” Collins also said he’s “sure Andrew is incredibly disappointed. When you’re hurt and can’t play, it’s no fun. I’m sure he wants to be out here as much as anybody.” – 10/25/12
DWN: It’s been a slow progression regarding the comments. Collins had previously communicated that he might miss games and now DiLeo’s including the qualifier, “it’s our understanding” which opens the door for things to change. Collins’s comments on the 25th introduce the possibly of the unknown whereas just eight days previous, it was a different diagnosis.
Tom DiLeo: “He’s improving, but it’s still the same situation…” – 11/6/12
NBA.com: Andrew received a fresh MRI and was seen again by Dr. Altchek this past week on Monday, November 5. At that evaluation, Dr. Altcheck extended Andrew’s return date for a second time by an additional three weeks. – 11/6/12
Brian Windhorst (ESPN): Sixers fear Andrew Bynum has done additional damage to his knees by bowling recently, multiple sources told ESPN. Story link coming. – 11/17/12
Brian Windhorst: Andrew Bynum confirms he hurt his knee bowling. Said it swelled up after he hit lanes. – 11/18/12 (date of bowling incident was 11/10)
DWN: If the mood had been dimming the previous couple weeks, the bowling incident officially cast a pall over the Sixers and Bynum in particular. Up to this point, stories relating to his knee condition(s) were primarily Philadelphia-based sources and were mostly sympathetic to his situation. ESPN gets a hold if this oddball piece that reveals Bynum to be somewhat careless and suddenly it’s not just Philadelphia that has an opinion on him, but sports fans across the country.
Tom DiLeo: “We have to continue to be patient,” Sixers GM Tony DiLeo told reporters recently. “We want to be cautious. We’re looking long term in this, not short term, and big picture. We’re going to do what’s best for Andrew and what’s best for the organization and try to get him as healthy as he can be and get him back on the court when he is ready.” – 11/21/12
Tom DiLeo: “We’re anticipating he’ll be back at some point,” DiLeo said. “We hope he will be back. We have plans for the future if he is not back with us, but we are anticipating this is a short-term thing. We want to plan on him for the long term.” DiLeo’s primary message during the nine-minute session with the media was to say the Dec. 10 target date for Bynum to return to basketball-related activities is off, he is out “indefinitely” and there is no timetable for Bynum’s return. “We don’t know when he’ll be back,” DiLeo said. “Only Andrew can answer that question.” – 11/25/12
DWN: Within a week of ESPN breaking the bowling story, Bynum’s status has become increasingly bleak. DiLeo’s changed the perspective to “long term” and “big picture” and in the same sentence makes the leap from “anticipating” to “hope.” The cherry on top though is the final comment that “only Andrew” can answer about when he’ll be back. These are statements that, to my untrained public relations eye, are completely misplaced. By putting the responsibility of insight into this mysterious injury on the player, DiLeo is (whether intentionally or not) implying Bynum either knows when he can return (and isn’t sharing) or is able to return and is choosing not to.
Tom DiLeo: “At the time of the trade we had four doctors look at his MRI. We knew it was a calculated risk. We also knew we were getting the second-best center in the league, a franchise type player. We took that risk,” Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo told reporters. “His knees now and the MRIs are not the same. It’s a different type situation. But we are still looking at big picture and long term. We’re hopeful that after this situation heals we can get him back on the court and he’s got a future here.” – 12/6/12
DWN: Neither Collins or Bynum has commented to the media since 10/25/12. DiLeo’s acting as the mouthpiece and attempting to explain that Bynum’s knees have changed since August. A statement that will be reinforced later on in March by Sixers CEO Adam Aron.
Andrew Bynum: “My left knee is still really sore, right knee is actually better, so that’s good,” said Bynum, who last spoke with the media on Nov. 25. “It’s just pain, just by walking around. Worst case scenario it’s another month.” Asked if he was going to get an MRI (or two) at that time, Bynum said: “Probably so, I’m not sure yet but probably. There’s nothing I can really do about it. It’s arthritis in the knees, cartilage is missing so that’s not going to regrow itself. Maybe in the future, in the next 3 to 5 years maybe there’s something out there that really does help, but for right now it’s really just a waiting game. If this was the Finals and it could be potentially the end, I’d be helping this team win because I think that’s a serious time and you want to be a part of that. But other than that I don’t think, especially right now, it would be a good time to risk anything. Why risk it when you have time to come back and be 100 percent? My right knee is feeling really, really good. I would definitely test it on the right side. I think it’s more evidence that my knees weren’t right if they got hurt playing because it’s definitely going to happen if I play basketball [right now].” – 12/10/12
Tom DiLeo: Asked about the progress of Andrew Bynum before the game, Sixers general manager Tony DiLeo said there really is no update and that Bynum is progressing from his knee issues. Asked if Bynum was past the first of the six stages of progress toward recovery, DiLeo said yes but was very vague as to what that means. There probably will be an update when the team returns from its road trip next week. – 1/2/13
DWN: We’re into the new year and there aren’t any updates. Bynum’s comments in December referred to arthritis and missing cartilage and speculated on the potential for cartilage regeneration in the future. Then a few weeks later, reporters and DiLeo are discussing “six stages of … recovery” while simultaneously being described as “vague.” There’s a clear frustration on Philadelphia’s part and it’s unclear how much is directed at Bynum and how much is directed at the situation itself. Keep in mind, Bynum’s bowling excursion didn’t help anything and he’s still making statements like “If this was the Finals … “ and implying that he could play. Given that his contract expires at the end of the season, this is a terrible situation for Philly. On the one hand, you want your potential star big man to take his time and not damage his knees further. On the other, you’re looking at a potential scenario where you traded away an All-Star for an injured player who you’re paying $16.5 million this season just to rehab, potentially get healthy and sign with another team the following season.
Andrew Bynum: “It’s definitely moving in a positive direction,” Bynum, who has been out with bone bruises and swelling cartilage, said. “I’m feeling better every day. I’m back to the weights and on the treadmill and I should be running here soon.” – 1/7/13
Andrew Bynum: “I have no idea exactly, I just want to get back,” Bynum said Monday. “I think, I’m hoping around the all-star break. That’s what I’m hoping. I have no idea exactly when I’ll be back. It’s minimal,” Bynum said. “It’s not hurting.” – 1/14/13
Doug Collins: “All you want is a chance, you want hope. You are starting to get hope again.” – 1/18/13
DWN: It’s unclear if Collins’s comments on 1/18/13 are motivated by Bynum’s public (and likely private) comments from a few days previous. But Collins’ use of “hope” feels genuine while Bynum’s use is closer to our daily usage of the word which is more absentminded without actual feeling behind it. As we progress into the spring, you start to wonder about the honesty and intent of Bynum’s comments. Does he really think he’s coming back or is he just trying to please people or even play them? Let’s get going here.
Andrew Bynum: “It’s going pretty good. I shot around at shoot-around (Monday morning) with the guys so I’m getting a bit better on the court. If the treadmill would stop breaking down I would be able to do a little bit more, but I’m going well. It’s like every 3 days or so it needs service, so I don’t know. I’ve been involved a little bit in practice just shooting around with the guys and stuff like that. My knees feel good and I’m not feeling any pain so this is all good and I just want to keep it going.” – 1/21/13
Tom DiLeo: “We’re hoping for the first of February for practice,” DiLeo said. “But we have to just wait and see how it goes. He’s done a lot of work, but he hasn’t had to go hard and stop and start. That will be important.” – 1/29/13
Michael Curry (Philly assistant coach): “It’s exciting. You give up a lot to get him, and when he’s healthy and on the court, he’s one heck of a player,” said associate head coach Michael Curry, who ran practice Sunday in place of an ailing Doug Collins. “The fact that his level of activity has picked up and he’s here working three hours or so, you’re going to get excited. You start to get ready for the next phase, so we know what kind of sets we want to run and what kind of personnel we want on the court with him.” – 1/29/13
DWN: I like Curry’s comments here. He’s articulating something that I imagine the front office, Collins, Sixers players and Philly fans feel, but the difference is that Collins’s and DiLeo’s jobs could be on the line with this. These guys are excited too, but I think they have more riding on Bynum than Curry does. I don’t say this to imply Curry’s just along for the ride in Philadelphia, but rather to point out that any frustration I might be reading into regarding Collins and DiLeo is likely a justified or at least understandable frustration. This can’t be fun …
Andrew Bynum: “February is the target, I guess, My doctor said it’s just a fear of a big bone bruise, so I have to nurse it all the way back up to playable conditions without pain or a setback. They (the injections) didn’t really help that much,” Bynum said. “My right knee feels phenomenal and the left knee still feels some of that stuff a bit. It was an attempt to ease the pain a bit, but nothing has really changed that much.” – 2/4/13
Tom DiLeo: “When he practices, bangs, jumps, moves — that’s really the most critical part,” DiLeo said on the court prior to
Wednesday’s game against the Pacers. “We’ll just have to see how he reacts during that phase.” DiLeo denied that he told reporters he expected Bynum to practice this week and is unsure when Bynum will be able to work out with the team. “I never said he would practice with us the first week of February,” DiLeo said. “I said he would increase his basketball activities the first week of February. I don’t know where that came from.” – 2/7/13
Andrew Bynum: “I’m not really optimistic. When I get on the court, that’s when I’ll be ready. I’m trying as hard as I can. It would suck to play through pain, but sometimes you have to.” – 2/11/13
Dough Collins: “The question’s going to be, at some point and time, of him getting out there. Right now, he has not done anything with contact.” – 2/18/13
DWN: I can’t tell if it’s just from me going through this material so many times or if it’s equally evident in the quotes and the repetition, but there’s sadness (Bynum), frustration (DiLeo), helplessness (Collins) and desperation (Holiday) in these words and by mid-February it had only gotten worse. The hope in January and February comes off as nothing but a tease. How could you not presume the worst at this point?
Andrew Bynum: “Yeah, [I’m 100 percent sure I’ll play this year],” Bynum said. “I don’t see any surgeries and no doctor has told me I need them. I think I just have to grind up the cartilage that’s loose and I’ll feel better, so that’s what we’re working on doing. I think it’s just dealing with it, to be honest. Without some type of intervention or surgery it’s just dealing with it.” – 2/19/13
Doug Collins: “He’s really the only one who knows. Everyone else is just speculating,” Collins said. “But I think he’s feeling better and I think he knows that at some point he’s going to play through pain. I talked to him this morning and told him that once you’ve been around the NBA for a while and have had some injuries, very rarely do you feel great. You always have some aches and pains. But I think he can compete and do well.” – 2/19/13
DWN: Those last two comments feel like indirect communication; almost as if Collins and Bynum are sitting a room with a therapist that happens to have a tablet and a Twitter account with millions of followers. Doug and Drew won’t speak directly to each other, but by opening up to the therapist, they open up to the whole world.
Doug Collins: “He looked like a guy who hadn’t played in nine months,” Collins said. “I don’t think any bells and whistles should be sent off that he’s close to playing. Collins said Bynum would inform them of any future updates, as he has during the entire process. You should talk to him,” Collins said. “I don’t want to be the messenger because they shoot messengers.” – 2/24/13
DWN: For starters, Bynum informing the team of updates seems like the wrong direction for the communication to flow, but by allowing Bynum’s personal orthopedic doctor to run the show, the Sixers have somewhat hamstrung themselves. Beyond that, once again we see Philly going out of their way to put the onus on Bynum—not on Bynum’s knee, not on Bynum’s doctor, but directly on him. Money absolutely matters, but all things being equal, I’d guess Bynum will remember the lines the Philadelphia brass has drawn in the sand.
Doug Collins: “He played the five-on-zero Friday,” Collins said. “I saw him yesterday and he still hadn’t been able to do anything yet. I didn’t ask him [about any pain]. I just had a chance to visit with him a little bit. I know it is tough on him. He wants to play. We traded for him to come in here and play and he hasn’t been able to and that is hard. Hard on him and hard on everyone, and so I feel badly. For us, it is a little different. We traded three guys to get a guy who hasn’t played all year,” he said. “The Bulls have a player that is injured, but he has been here the whole time. Our guy came in, so the dynamics are different. We gave up a lot in that trade and that has been tough.” – 2/28/13
Andrew Bynum: That’s true, I don’t want to play in pain,” the Sixers center said. Bynum then reiterated the fact that he doesn’t care about the public perception of that: “I’m 25. It’s my life. They just grew cartilage in a petri dish, science is looking at it,” Bynum stated, possibly alluding to the future creation of cartilage. “Doctors are looking at it, they’re going to come up with something.” – 3/1/13
Andrew Bynum: “Now it’s getting a little late, so I really don’t know,” Bynum said when asked if he were considering sitting out the final two months of the 76ers season. “I played in one scrimmage and [I have] a four- to five-day setback,” Bynum said of his latest setback. Bynum added that he is “just getting treatment and trying to push the fluid out” of his knee. – 3/1/13
DWN: On 2/19, Bynum was 100% sure he’d play this season and over the course of less than two weeks, he’s revisiting his “cartilage in a petri dish” idea, taking a defensive stance (“I’m 25. It’s my life.”), and finally putting it out there that he may not play.
Doug Collins: “During this period of time, he’s not made any progress, and that’s obviously very concerning,” Collins said. “His concern that he was moving forward and he got to a point with the swelling where he’s making no progress.” – 3/1/13
Adam Aron (Philly CEO): “This is a move that should have worked,” Aron said. “But, unfortunately, he got an injury in September and it’s been compounded since, post-trade and we haven’t seen a day. The fans hopes were justifiably high that the Sixers had made a move, a bold move, that would catapult us back into the top teams in the NBA. It hasn’t worked. I can’t get into his exact medical condition,” Aron said. “But I can say this, which is obvious to all of us: All season long he’s had bone bruise issues. He’s had cartilage problems. It’s March. He’s still not playing. He hasn’t played basketball since last May. Clearly, Andrew is dealing with some knee problems that have prevented him from playing in the NBA. Aron said “four doctors cleared the trade in August, and six doctors have actively been treating him and examining him all year long.” The Sixers’ CEO insisted that the team, until now, was confident Bynum would play this season.
“We certainly thought he was going to play in August,” Aron said. “That’s why we made the trade. Even in early October, we thought he would play on opening night. Then there was a delay. Then there was [another] delay. Even when we announced that he was out indefinitely, inside the team we thought he would play in January or February. He himself, in February, said he would play in February. But here we are in March and the team is disappointed. Our fan base is disappointed. And that’s the story of the season. Right now, none of us really know where Andrew Bynum will be in four days or four weeks, let alone in four years.” – 3/4/13
Tom DiLeo: “I think we’re all trying to gather information and see what the best course of action is,” DiLeo said Tuesday, before the Sixers hosted the Boston Celtics. “So I’m sure Altchek will have an opinion, our doctors will have an opinion, and Andrew basically will have an opinion. It’s just gathering information. Like I said before, he’ll continue to rehab, see how that goes. There’s an option of washing it, see how that goes.” – 3/6/13
Doc Rivers (Boston Celtics coach): “He’s (Collins) a friend, so I don’t want my friends to do poorly, unless it’s against me,” Rivers said. “It’s very similar situation to one I had with Grant Hill (in Orlando). It’s tough because your guys see him practicing every day. And with Grant, he played seven games that one year (four, in 2000-01). Each game, he was going to play and didn’t play. And this is the week, next week, he’s going to play in. You just felt like you were always caught in limbo. The thing with Doug can be tougher at times because with Grant, we’re small, we’re athletic and we’re going to play the same style. With Andrew, you’re going to change some of the way you play when he comes back. It’s just hard for everyone. We endured it in Orlando, we got through it, but it was no fun.” – 3/6/13
DWN: I was glad to come across that Rivers quote as Grant Hill’s a great example of a worst-case-scenario for Bynum. Hill ended getting huge paydays and is likely set for life in terms of finances, but when Bynum thinks about returning this season to a team that has zero chance of winning the NBA Championship, I wonder how much Grant Hill’s situation or the potential for a Grant Hill situation weighs on his young mind.
At the time I write this, it’s March 12th, 2013; six days after the latest official update has been released and Bynum has yet to suit up in a Sixers uniform. I feel for both sides here and I get the frustration in as much as I’m able as a third party observer with no skin in this game. I get both sides and believe there’s a conflict of goals here. With the exception of proving he’s healthy and can play, Bynum has little-to-no incentive to return this season and risk further injury prior to entering an off-season without a contract. As I mentioned above, Philadelphia’s in a terrible position. Gone are Andre Iguodala, Nikola Vucevic, Maurice Harkless and a future first round pick. In return is nothing but stress and frustration. And throughout this past eight months, even in public comments you can feel the rising and falling emotions, the expectations, confusion and resentment. If this is what’s going on in public, you can fairly easily assume what’s going on behind closed doors—my guess would be the Sixers have at least had discussions around the “injury in September” (Aron, 3/4/13), the potential to get a recoup lost expenses, the bowling incident, the pre-trade MRIs, etc. I don’t see any of the topics coming out of spite (even if it has possibly become personal on some level), but more out of a sense of desperation. You hear this most in DiLeo’s and Aron’s comments.
For the present, there are no winners. Just question marks and an unknown, fearful future for Andrew Bynum, Doug Collins, Tom DiLeo, Jrue Holiday, Michael Curry, Adam Aron and the Philadelphia faithful.