The Daily Peep, Jan. 31

25 minutes of Roland Lazenby talking about MJ and Kobe. I guarantee you will click this and send it to someone: Zen And The Art of Mustache Maintenance I nodded my head as I read this in Britt Robson’s power rankings: “At some point every year, people realize that Chris Paul is the best floor general in the game, and after he had a combined 51 points (on 60 percent shooting), 21 assists and three turnovers in back-to-back victories against Denver and OKC, now is as good a time as any to repeat it.” Bethlehem Shoals on the Sixers. Jessica Camerato on Greg Stiemsma’s battle with depression. I love this feature on Isaiah Thomas because, well, I love Isaiah Thomas. You know who else loves him? Bill Walton. From the piece: ”He is the personification of what the NBA is about,” said Walton, who is the Kings’ radio analyst. “A young man chasing his dreams, using basketball to make a better life for himself. Yesterday I wrote about how I wanted to see Bismack Biyombo play more. Obviously I’m going to link to this #FreeBismack piece at Queen City Hoops. The latest TrueHoop TV is about a documentary I’d very much like to see: Small Market, Big Heart. Brett Koremenos is like, “Who cares about Blake and his stupid dunk? Let’s talk about Chris Paul!” I’m going to end this with some positive thoughts for Nic Batum. Glad his ugly injury last night is just a bone bruise, hope he doesn’t miss much time. By the way, did you know about his charity to support mothers in Africa? I hadn’t until last night. (h/t Holly MacKenzie) Tweet

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Let’s get SUPER positive with these: Week 4 Power Rankings


(artwork by Anthony Bain)

Perhaps I’ve been a little too negative during the first three weeks of this season. I’ve always been a super positive guy when it comes to the NBA. I love almost every player, think they’re all the best and think most teams are capable of catching a little magic and wonderment as they challenge for an NBA title each year. Okay, very little of that is true. I do like almost every player, but as soon as someone starts discussing them playing outside of my knee-jerk ceiling for them, I must instantly crush their dreams by telling them just how bad their favorite phenom actually really is. I don’t know why I do this. It’s just more of a wanting to be realistic thing.

But this week, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to do my best to be super positive about every team in the league and find nothing but nice things to say about them. I just want everybody to be happy and filled with hope before I tell you how much your favorite team or players suck next week. And with that, here are this week’s power rankings:  Continue reading “Let’s get SUPER positive with these: Week 4 Power Rankings” »

Virility in its singular form

“I wonder what it is about dunks. Why did I yell really, really [expletive] loud when that happened? It was involuntary, too.” – Ethan Sherwood Strauss

“It’s a sexual feeling. It’s primitive and virile. It’s not sex sexual. But it’s an explosion of emotions and feelings.” – Me

“I would agree. It’s sort of a metaphor for human sacrifice, which is awesome.” – ESS

Why do we love these dunks so much? Is Ethan right when he says it’s a human sacrifice? Offer up this poorly rotating from the weak side soul to the eyes of the masses. They will revel in his public destruction, like sacrificing a helpless animal in the hopes of a bountiful harvest next spring.

This dunk doesn’t make Blake Griffin a better player in the refractory stages of such a moment. He didn’t all of a sudden get better because he decided to give birth to Kendrick Perkins’ demise. And Kendrick Perkins being a step too slow doesn’t make him less of a defender. He’s helped anchor a title win before. We can often give too much thought to these eruptions of splendor.

People are already ranking their top dunks ever. They’re discounting this one and praising the feats of higher jumping genetic cyborgs. They’re comparing and contrasting. They’re spitting into the face of this moment and trying to find a way to show how many dunks they’ve seen and remember. And that’s all fine. It’s okay to try to keep things in perspective once we’ve calmed down a bit from our paroxysm of validated anticipation.

Me personally? I just want to enjoy the moment. I was left speechless for the better part of an hour after Blake Griffin sparked the eulogizing of Kendrick Perkins’ manhood. That’s not exactly a good thing when

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The Daily Peep, Jan. 30

Michael D. Dwyer at Negative Dunkalectics, on the Cetics and grief. This is amazing. Matt Calkins of The Columbian tells the story of Blazers radio pbp man Brian Wheeler. Read this. Excellent piece on the wacky Wizards by Jake Appleman of the New York Times. Speaking of the Wiz, Jan Vesely is starting now. Remember when he wasn’t getting any minutes at the beginning of the season? I’m cool with this change — if you’re not winning, at least play your lottery picks. On that note, can Bismack Biyombo please never, ever play fewer minutes than DeSagana Diop in a Bobcats game again? That’d work for me. Smart people at GQ: Bomani Jones and Bethlehem Shoals debate the Thunder’s status as title contenders/favorites + Nick Collison talks about hazing. He sang “Baby Got Back” at dinner as a rookie. Ian Levy of Hickory High, showing how every team’s assists are divided between distributors and shooters. Nicely done, and check out the Wolves graph to see what Rubio looks like here. I’m fascinated by the weird things NBA’ers do to get a leg up on the competition, so I enjoyed this piece on the Wolves and cryotherapy. (via Bain) Deron Williams is up and down. The Nets win when he’s up. Ethan on homerism. He admits he wants the Warriors to do well — LET’S GET HIM! Nugget-y videos: inside Chauncey Billups’s return to Denver and the first episode of The Association. A video of Courtney Lee talking about a car accident from which he emerged unharmed. Adam McGinnis got some good quotes from Ty Lawson. A couple of Tweets from happy PG’s: Congratulations to Isaiah Thomas on the birth of his son, and I hope all of you are feeling as good as Armon Johnson today. Dallas is

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Dwyane Wade’s big play

When Dwyane Wade succumbed to injury and the Miami Heat reeled off an impressive winning streak, some speculated as to whether the Heat were better off without the dynamic shooting guard–at least on offense (lest I build up too flammable a straw man). During Wade’s absence, the Heat’s enviable redundancy at the wing positions was replaced by minutes for specialists like Mike Miller and Shane Battier and touches for Chris Bosh. Suddenly the Heat were turning the ball over less, making more three pointers and seemed to have a clearer plan in the half court. They smashed the Lakers, Spurs and 76ers.

Then, in his first game back, Wade took 10 of his 19 shots from within arms’ length of the rim, and six of his 7 assists led to layups or dunks.

But yesterday, as they did in five playoff games last season, the Bulls once again had Wade’s number. The Heat tried to manufacture scoring chances for Wade by repeatedly and unsuccessfully isolating him against Richard Hamilton from the left mid block. Chicago never brought help, and Wade never made them pay, missing every shot from the post. In fact, Wade only made one shot from the floor that wasn’t a transition dunk or layup–a fourth quarter floater that managed to die on the rim and fall in.

Chicago gives Wade fits because they cover driving angles so comprehensively that not even Wade, who seems to invent his own special geometry on some of his more creative drives, can find a seam. Sticking him in the post was a simple solution that resulted in some close attempts, Wade just blew his baseline spins over the rangy Hamilton.

More disconcerting for Miami than Wade’s inaccurate finishing was his general discomfort against Hamilton, who is a capable but not

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Kyrie’s a poor man’s nobody

I’ve resisted the urge to write about Kyrie Irving because I’ve resisted the urge to do a “He’s awesome, I told ya so, I am great by proxy” victory dance. But the jig is up, or on in this case. When Irving submits a performance like last night’s Boston besting, he becomes impossible to ignore. His overall game was magnificent, but the hairpin spin layup winner pegged that brilliance to a single, memorable moment.

A fiery upstart using Boston as a staging ground for thumbing his nose at an ossified imperial power? Why, a Tea Party would be the perfect metaphor for this, had the term not become so politically loaded. Or it would be were this a new occurrence, or even that shocking. Going 10-14 isn’t that surprising when you’re shooting over 50% on the year. He does this kind of thing on the regular, his PER is only behind that of Chris Paul, Derrick Rose, and the immortal Lou Williams among point guards.

Sometimes it seems as though the only shocking aspect of Kyrie’s success is how shocked people are by it. He was the number one pick, number one picks are supposed to be potential superstars. Yet there was no superstar buzz surrounding the Duke prospect. There was Puritanical clucking over how he should have returned for another year at Duke, worries over how few games he played before succumbing to a toe injury. The general assumption was that this draft was weak and that Irving’s selection highlighted an overall talent lowtide.

In the draft lead up, the tag on Irving’s game was, “a poor man’s Chris Paul,” or “Chris Paul lite.” Here is where I think NBA pundits got wrong-footed: There is no such damned thing as a poor man’s Chris Paul because Chris

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The Weekly Bain, Jan 28

From my fingers to your face; here’s this week’s dose of Tumblrishish visualizations.

Week one images here.

Follow @AnthonyBain //

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“Mama there goes that meme!”: It’s all Melo’s fault

“Mama there goes that Meme!” is a weekly HoopSpeak feature in which Beckley Mason and Ethan Sherwood Strauss, like curious extraterrestrials, probe, abuse, and ultimately learn from a popular media meme.”

Beckley: Hey Ethan, let’s blow the dust off the ol’ meme machine and investigate the mystery of New York’s flip-flopping fan base, who have been flambeing Carmelo Anthony since the team decided to make a run at Anthony Davis in the 2012 draft.

I can’t say as I blame them. Expectations frame perception, and time was a man could trade for a superstar and know he got the best bargain, almost no matter what the cost. But just about everyone has come around to the fact that Carmelo Anthony, pedigree and talent notwithstanding, is not The King (as in James), though the ransom paid for his services suggests otherwise. Heck, the New York Times even called on our TrueHoop Network cousin Jeremy Wagner to explain that Melo’s game is more seductive than productive.

The Knicks stink. But I can’t help wondering if this is Carmelo’s fault at all. Like the rest of the ‘bockers, his offseason shooting training with Reggie Evans appears to be backfiring, but his assist % is at a career high and he’s clearly trying (at least on offense). And after all, he didn’t trade for himself.  There are other, more serious problems here.

You secretly love the Knicks almost as much as you overtly hate Carmelo-hype. Where do you stand on this, and is Melo the symptom or the disease?

Ethan: Hold up! Stop the presses! Knicks just clubbed Charlotte, EVERYTHING IS SOLVED! Quick, throw D’Antoni’s 1,000 degree seat into the liquid nitrogen tank, cool that sucker down!

Sorry, just doing my best to mimic a hyperbolic fanbase, media. As the presses restart, I think

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The Daily Peep, Jan. 27

Steve Aschburner’s Marshon Brooks feature. Love this rookie. John Bennett looking at how the Magic built a lead and then melted down against Boston. Paul Flannery says the Celtics are not dead yet. Evan Turner, who looks like a completely different player this season: “Last year, I was so rattled, mentally, from everything, it was hard to focus because everything was so new,” Turner said. “When I was focused and tuned in, I could play with anybody. Bethlehem Shoals on the radical Kevin Love. Danny Chau on Tiago Splitter, who has been excellent. Rodney Stuckey is already planning what he’s going to do with Brandon Knight in the summer: “During this off-season, we’re going to spend a lot of time here working out with each other, just getting used to each other and building that chemistry, where we need to be on the court – off the court, as well,” Stuckey said. “We haven’t (discussed it) yet. But I’m going to demand that. And Brandon is a bright kid. Whatever we need to do to get better, he’s willing to do it.” Haven’t listened to David Thorpe on NBA Today yet, but I want to. Royce Young makes this “royal jelly” thing sound interesting. Howard Beck’s Knicks writing is awesome. Connor Huchton, writing about Jason Kidd at The Two Man Game. “The Hard Truth About Jameer Nelson.” This video made me more emotional than I’d like to admit:

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Mic’d Minds: Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

This edition of “Mic’d Minds” features last night’s game between the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic. We drop in on the contest with Orlando leading by 21 at the start of the second half.

As always, transcribed internal monologue is italicized.

(12:00 in 3rd quarter. ORL 58, BOS 37)

Dwight Howard: “Aright everyone, let’s just keep doing what we’ve been doing and everything is going to turn out great!”

Why didn’t we have orange slices at halftime. Do I really want to play in a town where I can’t get wedges of citrus to keep my blood sugar up? At least we’re pounding these guys. Man, I hate the Celtics. They’re just so mean!

Stan Van Gundy: “Guys, we gotta take care of the ball, get back and take good shots. Let’s close this out early!”

Looks like I picked the right week to stop living exclusively on coffee and buffalo burgers. Yep, things are lookin’ up for ol’ Stanley!

Kevin Garnett: “Go @#$@#$@# team!!! UBUNTUUUU!!!”

America is NOT a young land: it is OLD and DIRTY and EVIL before the settlers, before the Indians. The evil is there WAAITTTIIIIIIIINGGG!!!!!!!

(2:31 left in 3rd. Orlando Timeout. ORL 70, BOS 54)

Stan Van Gundy: The lead was at 21, now it’s at 16. At this rate, we’ll….

Dwight Howard: Yea, just like coach said. Gotta let the big dog eat his Big Mac and fries with sweet and sour sauce. And wash it down with a Vitamin Water. Adidas!

Kevin Garnett: “C’mon guys, we $%##in’ got this #$#@!!”

Black magic operates MOST effectively in PRECONSCIOUS, MARGINAL AREAS!!! CASUAL curses are the MOST EFFECTIVE!!!!!!!!!

Jason Richardson: Ach! What was that flash of light?? I must have made eye-contact with Craig Sager’s suit… it couldn’t be an alien mind

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