Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm sorry I haven't posted in so long. With the football season over, and a moderate interest in basketball until the NCAA tournament starts, what was there for me to say? Yeah, the Patriots videotaping scandal has shown surprising staying power (or maybe not so surprising since it gets elected officials headlines while forcing them to take no risks to their future career prospects whatsoever), but I've already said all that I have to say about that, for the most part.

I know NBA teams are scoring more, and sinking ships in the league are offering big name players to potential contenders at bargain basement prices. But I still can't get fired up to watch too much basketball until the playoffs start. No matter how intriguing some teams are starting to look, that doesn't change the fact that there are 8-10 teams more than the market can support.

While there are enough basketball players to fill the league's rosters in the sense that they can all put enough warm bodies on the court, there are far too many guys who have no business in an NBA arena unless they paid the price of admission or sold beer at a concession stand for my taste. There was a time when a player with so little talent and so few discernible skills in the basketball industry like Brian Scalabrine wouldn't be cashing checks from an NBA team. I'm old enough to remember and miss that time and young enough to be depressed when I do remember it.

I do want to talk a little about the big NBA trades that have come down lately. It gives me a chance to do something that I almost never do, and that is compliment Bill Simmons. I guess I'd file it under the "Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then" theorem, but Simmons was dead right on Jason Kidd going to the Mavericks being much more likely to blow up than pan out in the short run or the long run. Simmons nailed every one of Kidd's flaws as a basketball player, and how specifically his competitiveness won't overshadow his inability to fit in on an already flawed basketball team.

That said, I am thrilled that Mark Cuban did this. First, it brings together three people in the NBA that I hate more than anyone, even Ainge, in Cuban, Kidd and Dirk. And it puts the three of them on a ship that will almost certainly sink. As Simmons said, Kidd can't shoot and he's too old to consistently drive to the basket. The players who should benefit from an upgraded point guard position were already shooting very well before Kidd came to town. And best of all, Kidd makes $20 million a year at his age, granted the deal ends after next year, but that's a lot of money to pay for a product that just may be past its expiration date. Good night and good luck to any hopes of a Mavericks' title run in the immediate future.

Simmons made an interesting point that Portland would have been a better fit, but Kidd nixed that deal. Apparently he had his heart set on going to the Mavs. Personally, I can't help but wonder if there might be some small motivation for Kidd coming out of the Toni Braxton fiasco, which ruined the chemistry of the young Mavs teams of the mid 1990s after Kidd and Jim Jackson fell out over their interest in the R and B singer.

I also found it interesting that Simmons dared to ask hard questions about whether this Garnett move might not come back to haunt the Celtics from a competitive stand point down the road. I am actually looking forward to that unfolding, considering the fact that I still hate Ainge and wish this team no success. If they don't win this year, all the players will be a year older. More than that, the issues that can arise on a team with three superstars trying to share shots won't be as easy to work around. If people put the team first for a year and it doesn't get it done, particularly if they lose to a one man team like Detroit or Cleveland, it's not going to work like this again.

As Simmons said, and we all know, the simple, pure economic decision was to go for Garnett. Even without the win differential, it got people excited and interested in the Celtics for the first time in 6 years. It sold a lot of tickets and jerseys and other assorted memorabilia. And something tells me, that even if this team comes apart at the seams in the playoffs and never gets close to bringing the 17th banner to Banner 17, those tools won't lose much sleep over it. Not so long as they make money.

So much for the thought that Mark Cuban is a brilliant business man. I wonder how the people who were desperate for Cuban to acquire the Cubs have taken this. I notice Jay Mariotti hasn't had the time to devote an entire column on this story. I'm not surprised, what with the fact that he had to tell us Tiger Woods had overtaken Michael Jordan. Aside from the horrendously half-assed stab at some sort of poetry to start the piece, the worst aspect had to be comparing a golfer and a basketball player.

Consider the fact that Tiger Woods goes ballistic if a fan dares snap a photo of him while he's in his back swing. Then set against that image a picture of Jordan trying to drive to the hoop against the Bad Boys era Pistons or the Pat Riley Knicks whose hacking habits did what just might be irreparable damage to basketball as a sport. At the end of the day, it's got to take a bit more than a few ads for Amex and Buick for a guy who excelled at a hobby to pass by a guy who took a shameful amount of contact in a non-contact sport.

As for college basketball, I'm really not all that hard up for something to watch that I can force myself to sit down and watch a game featuring two teams that I really could care less about battle it out in conference play. The only thing I feel strongly about in the entire college basketball landscape is that I hate Duke. I just hope that the upcoming NCAA tournament provides some earth-shatteringly interesting story lines, otherwise college basketball might be dead to me forever.

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