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Stop Mike Lupica: A New York Knicks Blog, and more.
Proud member of the Blogs By Fans Network: sports blogs the way they were meant to be.

My old blog-friend Jeff, who currently writes for the excellent blog Pete Marasmitch, e-mailed me to ask to participate in his "Weeping With The Enemy" series.  In this series of posts on his site, Jeff, a Toronto Raptors fan, hunts down a blogger who writes about a rival team and they exchange a series of Q&A's.


Below are my questions to a somewhat suffering Raptors fan (one the one hand, the Raptors are worse record-wise than the Knicks; on the other hand, they have Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani; and one the third hand, those guys may or may not all be there together for much longer).  For my responses to his questions, check out Pete Marasmitch later today.


Here we go:

SML: The Shawn Marion question... where do you feel the Raptors' management will go with Shawn?  Will they try to re-sign him, or let him walk?  What do you think they should do?  It seems that they don't have much of a role for him, especially with Bargnani's emergence this season (more on that next question), but don't you think he could have played more of a role in Toronto than he did, or is this really all Shawn's capable of?


PM: I get the impression that Bryan Colangelo will let Marion walk, then use that cap space to sign someone(s). Seems to me the Raptors value Marion's experience, athleticism and leadership (apparently he's vocal about what they're doing right and wrong), but he may not be the right fit.


The Raptors need either a guy who can slash and create his own shot from the backcourt, or a defender who doesn't demand touches, since they have the Killer B's (Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani) to score 25+ points each, plus a healthy Jose Calderon to chip in 15+ points a game. Matrix is no shot creator, and he seems to get down when he's overlooked on offense. 


Defensively, he's fine. But it's like a drop in the empty bucket that is the Raptors' D.
SML: On an aside, I've been among the first to note the D'Antoni effect (David Lee's 20/20 games are ridiculous) on certain player's stats, but I always thought Shawn Marion was underrated while in Phoenix.  Having watched him play a bit this year, do you think there is a possibility of seeing the old Matrix at some point, or is he just done (i.e. no longer an All-Star caliber player)?


PM: I think Mike D'Antoni's system is a big factor on Marion's success, as is Steve Nash. That Suns team had a chemistry and sympatico so hard to duplicate. Also, some have noted that Marion's greatest years came when he played as an undersized power forward. Maybe now he just doesn't have the athleticism to do it anymore, nor the running mates to do it with.
SML: What have you thought of Jose Calderon's first year as a full-time starting point guard?  He's looked pretty good when he's been healthy, but it seems like he's always plagued by nagging injuries (the hamstring, for example).   Do you think he'll be able to withstand the rigors of an 82-game season (plus playoffs) in his career, or is he going to be a Baron Davis (or TJ Ford, ironically) type point guard?  Any other thoughts about his first year?


PM: Some Toronto fans were souring on Calderon this year, when he played significant stretches on a bad hammy, resulting in mediocre point guard play (especially on D); they were even lamenting the loss of Ford! Now that Calderon's healed and more comfortable, he's a force.


I don't know if he'll be forever injury prone as a starter. I think playing an 82-game schedule, plus playoffs, plus however many international games in the summer take their toll. But a little bird named Doug Smith said that Calderon's time with the Spanish nationals is coming to an end (, so that should help.


For sure, though, the Raptors were deadly when they had Forderon (or Caldeford?, able to change up the attack dramatically from the point position. Maybe a healthy Jose plus a quickly improving Roko Ukic will make that memory fade.
SML:  One more player of intrigue: Bargnani.  He's emerged a bit this year, showing much more of his game and potential.  Just want to hear your general thoughts on Andrea, from what you have seen of him this season.  Is he still worth the #1 pick?


PM: Bargnani's emerged, alright, and not just a bit. I'm glad to see him prove the doubters wrong.


I've been a big Bargnani booster since interviewing Caliper's CEO, Dr. Herb Greenberg ( You might remember that post, SML -- I remember you were quite high on it.


Now that Bargnani's got his health problems corrected, his body bulked up, his centre position solidified (formerly a forward), his mind acclimated ... he can build on his impressive rookie campaign. Last year was just a blip.


(SML Note: I do remember that post.  And I still wonder, even with Bargnani's break out year, whether he's worth the #1 pick overall.  That's generally reserved in my opinion, for a multiply all-star type player.  Unless you make the mistake of drafting a Kwame Brown type player #1.

SML: What's the offseason plan for the Raptors?  Do you think they will make any moves?  What do you do with a team that many expected to be in contention, but ended up not only missing the playoffs, but is currently the second-worst team in the Eastern Conference (heck, even the Knicks are ahead of them!).  Do they make major moves to rebuild the team?  Perhaps shop Bosh?  What do you see the team doing, and what would you like to see them doing?


PM: Oh yeah, the Raptors will make moves! I'm looking forward to this summer.


We know this team can score, with Bosh, Bargnani and Calderon, and has decent depth at those positions. The things Colangelo must address revolve around the "2" and the "3" ... that is, if he doesn't trade Bosh.


Last I heard, Colangelo clearly said Bosh is still the cornerstone of the franchise. But I wonder if it makes sense for all the scoring to come from the frontcourt. On the other hand, I have some reservations about moving him ( Very conflicted.


If the Raptors can somehow trade for Pete Maravich in his prime, I'm all for it. Perhaps Bosh could use his Texas car dealer connections ( to borrow a DeLorean ( with a flux capacitor. Or it could require moving the island (


Aside from that solid, solid plan, there are expired deals (Marion, Anthony Parker), maybe-movable contracts (Jason Kapono) and a high 2009 draft pick to play with. But whatever happens, I trust Colangelo.


Okay everyone, go check out (just in case we didn't give it enough linkatude).

There Is A Master Plan, After All: Unbelievable turn of events Friday, as the Knicks announced the trade of their top two scorers, Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph, for three spare parts.  Most sports fans would normally be angered at such a move, one which might signal that the team doesn't care about winning this year (especially with the Knicks off to a good start this year), but instead the media, and most fans, are excited by these trades.  The reason is simple: the gameplan is clearly to clear cap space in 2010 for a run at some of the premium free agents available.

SML Called It: On Monday of last week, I was chatting with MC Bias and DWil of Sports On My Mind when the conversation turned to the Knicks' hot start.  I pointed out that Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph were both playing like potential All-Stars, and that now their trade value was probably as high as it's going to get.  They'll vouch for me.  The Knicks, and Coach D'Antoni, were purposely pumping up - inflating - their stats.  After a horrible preseason in which Crawford struggled to play in the new system, D'Antoni gave him a green light to chuck away.  The result is that Crawford leads the NBA in 3-pointers at the time of the trade, and is averaging close to 20 ppg.  Randolph?  Apparently also given a green light, on that extends all the way to the three point line, too.  Randolph was shooting from anywhere, even attempting numerous three-pointers, without nary a complaint from the coach.  Thanks to their inflated, offense-heavy numbers, their trade value was as high as they ever were while wearing Knick uniforms.

Knicks GM Donnie Walsh must have felt the same way, too. Bottom line: yes, the Knicks didn't get back much talent for their top two stars; on the other hand, what talent could they reasonable expect to get back?  Randolph's lack of trade value had already been established - the Knicks acquired him from the Blazers purely for cap space... in 2009!  Remember, they trade Steve Francis straight up for Randolph, and Francis' contract is on the Blazer's books for $17 million this season, even though the Blazers cut Francis before last season even begun.

Crawford had maybe a bit more value, but combo guards have a bad rep in the NBA, and are the most plentiful position out there.  No less than 15-20 teams have SGs with better "value/talent" than Crawford, so there isn't that big a market for Jamal.  The Knicks were rumored to have come close to a TJ Ford for Crawford trade last offseason, but the Raptors ended up trading TJ Ford to Indiana for Jermaine O'Neal, a better talent and shorter contract than Jamal Crawford. 

In the end, it's hard to argue that the Knicks could have gotten a better deal than the two deals they got.  In fact, these deals are so improbably good for the Knicks, you really have to wonder if Commissioner David Stern didn't pull some strings.  If I was a fan of another team, I might formulate a conspiracy theory.

Donnie Walsh Collects: In all likelihood, though, what really happened here is that Donnie Walsh called up two of his good friends, and two people whose basketball careers he has heavily influenced, to collect a favor.  In Chris Mullin of the Warriors, it can legitimately be argued, as I did when discussing the T-Wolves trade of Kevin Garnett to the Celtics, that something almost shady took place.  Namely, Mullin is leaving the Warriors front office at the end of the season, and seems a good bet (at least according to the local NY newspapers) to end up in the Knicks' front office.  Did he help his future team at the expense of his current employee?

Short answer: Not really.  Al Harrington didn't have much value, and was openly feuding with Don Nelson, coach of the Warriors.  He clearly stated he wanted to play for the Knicks and "father figure" (Harrington used that exact phase in the introductory press conference) Donnie Walsh.  Chris Mullin, even if he didn't want to trade Harrington to the Knicks, really couldn't have gotten a much better deal.

The Clippers Always Suck, Part 205:  Clippers coach and acting GM, Mike Dunleavy, on the other hand, is harder to explain.  Seriously, WTF?!?  Adding Zach Randolph, when the Clips already have Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman... someone is going to the bench.  Why make that move?  Do they have something else in the works?  Kaman's deal is long, as is PG Baron Davis, meaning the Clippers are over the cap until 2011.  This deal beats the hell out of me.  Best I can figure, the Clippers are going for it now, even though they haven't proven they are even a .500 team.  More likely, we are seeing the value of having a GM, like Donnie Walsh, who has accrued favors and goodwill throughout his 20 plus years in the NBA.  I said this at the time of the still inexplicable trade that Walsh made, sending Renaldo Balkman to the Denver Nuggets for absolutely nothing.  Nothing.  Balkman has had some strong games for the Nuggets thus far this season, and has worked his way into their 8-man rotation.  A talented player, too talent and cheap to give away for nothing.  My guess at the time?  Walsh was either paying back a favor to Denver coach George Karl, or building good will towards a future favor.  Such transactions must take place in NBA.  The Randolph trade seems like such a transaction, from the Clippers perspective.  Especially when they happily agree to throw in Cuttino Mobley for Mardy Collins, which clearly was meant to give the Knicks another guard, so they wouldn't have to play Stephon Marbury (more on that later).

Clearing Space For 2010 Free Agents: With these two trades, the Knicks are now $40 million below the $64M salary cap in 2010.  There are only two players left with guaranteed deals in 2010 for the Knicks: Eddy Curry and Jared Jeffries. You can bet they will both be gone.  Well, Eddy Curry definitely.  The Knicks will keep him off the court (where his value can only diminish by struggling in the uptempo offense, in Walsh/D'Antoni's opinons) with his "injury".  How to get rid off Curry?  Well, presuming Walsh has used up all his favors, the most likely scenario is to inflate David Lee's stats next, and use him as the bait in a trade to get rid of Curry.  Perhaps something like Lee and Curry to Sacramento for Brad Miller?  Miller is another 2010 expiring contract whose style of play is more effective for D'Antoni's system than Curry's is. 

It is, in my opinion, a good move to trade Lee before he has to sign a multi-year extension.  One of my pet peeves is how people - media people and fans - quickly classify someone like Zach Randolph as "lazy", yet call David Lee "hard-working".  Both are 6'10.  Randolph has no jumping ability whatsoever.  I can say that in 90+ games as a Knick, I have not seen him dunk.  Maybe he did, and I missed it, but either way... he's got zero vertical leap.  The Knicks have used David Lee and even Wilson Chandler for the opening jump ball, but not Randolph.  Yet, despite having less ups than most forwards (including most SFs) and centers in the NBA, Randolph still gets his 10 rebounds every single night.  The reality is that he works hard... at rebounding.

And Randolph gets his 20 points every night, too.  He works hard... at scoring.  He has moves, and range that improves every season.

What Randolph doesn't work hard at, and barely tries really, is defense and team-oriented passing.  He's a notorious ball hog with poor defensive habits.

David Lee, just for reference... the hard worker... is a poor scorer who had yet to develop any moves.  He leads the team in getting his shot blocked.  His defense is just as bad as Randolph's.  He rebounds pretty well, though not so much this year as he is hampered by a foot injury (bone spur).  That's because while Randolph uses quickness and basketball acumen to get his rebounds (like Ben Wallace or Dennis Rodman did), David Lee uses his elite second and third jump skills (few players in the NBA can match Lee's ability to jump back up after the first jump) to grab rebounds.  Lee is the prototypical "lazy NBA player who relies on his natural abilities and doesn't work hard at his game", yet he reputation is the opposite.  But I digress.  Back on topic.

Curry will be gone.  He will be traded solo, or with David Lee if necessary.  Or, if it really comes down to it, the Knicks may even package Curry with their most valueable asset right now - Wilson Chandler.  Whatever it takes, you can bet Curry will not be on the cap come 2010.  Jared Jeffries is insignificant.  His $6M in 2010 mean nothing.  D'Antoni has stated that he sees Jeffries as his starting center, in the "mold of Boris Diaw".  If he really means that, then Jeffries will stick around, maybe even until 2010 and beyond.  Or maybe the Knicks are just trying to pump up his value.  His value will be pumped up (remember: Jeffries has a long contract, but not that expensive) that the Knicks could likely trade him if they want to.

2010 Is Not All About LeBron James:  First things first.  Yes, the first option for the Knicks come July 1st, 2010, with the $40 million in free space, will be LeBron James.  But if it does not work out, remember this: July 15, 1996 (I bet Frank Isola loves the link to his old archives... homeboy has been at the NYDN that long?!?). 

The Knicks freed up a ton of cap space that year.  It was the last time they were under the cap, in fact.  They set out initially to team Patrick Ewing up with the foe that defeated him so many times: Michael Jordan.

It didn't work out that way, though. So the Knicks went with plan B: sign a second tier SG - a little known sweet shooter from the Pistons who just finished his rookie contract named Allan Houston; a third tier PG from the crosstown Nets team that just had a break out year - Chris Childs; and use the rest of the cap space to trade for a fading, but still premier, forwards in the league - Larry Johnson.

In 2010, LeBron James will chose between the Knicks and the Cavs.  The Nets, thanks to their inability to get to Brooklyn (a huge break... if the Nets had made it to BK, I honestly believe that would have been his number one choice), have turned this into an even, two team race.  The Knicks may not win LeBron, though. 

Even if they don't, though, consider these names (among others): Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Manu Ginobili, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, Michael Redd, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce. 

The most underrated star of the class: Joe Johnson - desperate for a relevant market, entering his prime (29), and undervalued, meaning he wouldn't be signed at first banana money.  Wouldn't $15 million a year make it work?  How about Amare + JJ teaming up to reunite with ex-coach Mike D'Antoni?

How about aging Nash taking a discount, and once again teaming up with Dirk Nowitzki, only also with Manu Ginobili?  You don't think $40 million is enough to sign all three players, especially when they are all on the decline?

Or even if the Knicks can't sign too many free agents, they still have enough cap room to take someone else's cap clogger.  Think of the Orlando Magic, for example.  They tied up too much money in Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis.  Considering that the team is likely stuck in a rut, one where they win their division every year, but get knocked out in the second round every year... until they acquire a legit point guard... they may come to the point in July 2010 where they decide they need cap flexibility to retool around D-Ho.  They may be happy to give the overpriced Rashard Lewis up for nothing, much the same way Zach Randolph has now been traded twice in the last 18 months for little in return other than salary cap space down the line!

Or the Nuggets may entertain a similar decision about Carmelo Anthony.

The point is: 2010 isn't necesarily about LeBron James.  It's about all the moves that can happen that will allow the Knicks, just like they did back in 1996, to rebuild the team.

2008 Isn't Done Yet:  The most popular argument against these trades is that the Knicks seem to be giving up on their current season, one in which they are, for all intends and purposes, still in the running.  They got off to a good start (6-3), and seemed to be on their way to playoff contention.

I'm inclined to believe that the Knicks will still win close to 40 games, and compete for the 8th seed. First off, the guys traded - Randolph and Crawford - weren't great defenders. The new guys are much better (Mobley, Harrington, and thomas). The Knicks now lack an inside scorer, but they'll probably set some sort of record for 3PT attempted this year that make even Nellie wanna puke. Has an NBA team ever attempted more threes than twos?

Still, D'Antoni gets an extra 10 wins a season out of his teams based on pure stupidity/lack of disclipline by other teams. Those Suns teams really shouldn't have run more than 50-55 games every year, but they got 60-65 thanks to other teams making bad decisions and trying to run with them. That's a big part of why they never lost to bad teams (teams that typically lacked disclipline).

The Knicks have already done the same so far this season to bad teams - the Grizzlies, Bobcats, Heat, et al - and again yesterday.  They they were down to a seven man rotation (with the bench being Malik Rose and Anthony Roberson!!), they still beat a more talented Wizards team (we'll quote Seth from Posting and Toasting on this one: "they still had two All-Stars, size, and a bench over the Knicks") because the Wizards thought they could run with the Knicks.  

End result: 122 pts for the Knicks and a win.  D'Antoni's system guarantees the Knicks will win way more games than their talent dictates they should... and for that reason they will compete hard for that 8th spot. Al Harrington and tim thomas are good fits for D'Antoni's system... they can handle the ball, pass it well, rebound above average for their size, and shoot the three while playing aggressive defense (read: ball hawking and jumping lanes versus fundamental style defensive, like the Spurs).  The Knicks should remain an interesting, fun team to watch play.  D'Antoni's style won't make the Knicks legitimate contenders (much like I never though the Suns were true contenders), but it will make the Knicks bigger winners than their talent might indicate. 

Interesting Final Sidenote: Both tim thomas and Al Harrington used the word "freelance" to describe their skills in interviews during yesterday's game.  Are they consultants? 

I felt like checking in on Brandon Jennings.  You might remember him as the trail blazing amazing young talent - 18-years old, who spit in NBA commissioner David Stern's eye, and decided to skip college to spend the season after graduating high school playing in Europe.

It was a mildly controversial decision; there are some who wonder what effect it will have on his draft stock.  Will he still be a top-5 pick, even if he doesn't light it up in Europe?  Will it hurt his value?  Improve it?  Those questions won't be answered anytime soon... at least not until the 2009 Draft in June.  But here's what I found on Brandon's current situation:

It rules everything around me.In terms of profit, Jennings signed a $2 million deal with Under Armour. He will wear their gear while playing in Europe.  Brandon already had some nice coin for going to Europe - his little $1.2 million contract.  So instead of spending a season in college, Jennings is going to make over $3 million this year for playing about 30-40 games overseas, and building his international profile.  Only the top three rookies in the NBA this year - Derrick Rose ($4M), Michael Beasley ($3.6M) and OJ Mayo ($3.2M) are making close to that, though I'm not taking their endorsements into account.

This is what New York City will look like by 2012.Jennings's plays for Lottomatica Roma, of Italy's Serie A League.  Located in Rome, they have had lots of NBA talent in their history:  George Gervin (the Iceman), Michael Cooper, Anthony Parker, Rick Mahorn, Danny Ferry, Dino Radja.

His teammates include two former NBAers - and don't act like you're not surprised to hear these guys aren't currently in the NBA, because I thought they still were: Allan Ray (he won a championship with the Celtics last season!) and Primo Brezec.  Lord, I almost drafted Brezec with my last pick as a joke in fantasy basketball this season.  That's because Brezec is one of those players I always end up with every year... like Vince Carter (because no one else likes him, will draft him, trade for him, or even fathom having him on their roster... seriously, is it possible to be a fantasy team cancer?).

Jennings is currently the backup point guard to Ibrahim Jaaber. However, he gets pretty decent playing time - about 18.8 mpg.  He is currently averaging 3.3 apg (which is really good in this league.. that's 9th in the entire league) despite only 18.8 mpg.  Most guys don't play more than 22 minutes a night, so that should help to explain the first two sentence of this paragraph.


Damnit, I said he's shooting bricks, not choosing Brick!Unfortuately, he is only shooting 31% so far this season, through six games.  Lottomatica is 4-2, and sitting in second place overall in Seria A.  In Jennings' most recent game, which was 11/16, he played 21 minutes, shot 1-9, had 2 pts, 4 ast, and one steal.

Let's go to the footage!  Here is a clip of Jennings during warmups (hint: he's the black guy):

Here is a Brandon Jennings interview with Jeff Taylor of FIBA World:

Highlights: Jennings' response to "How is Italy different than America" included "I'm eating lots of italian food". Apparently Brandon didn't spend much time at the pizzeria while growing up.  Of course it might have to do with being from Compton.  Here in NYC, I grew up thinking pasta is more American than foreign.

BTW, I love how the interviewer needed clarification on what "italian food" means... I kinda wish BJ would have been like "you know, like chicken in snow peas and kung pow beef, dumbass".  Minus one, Jeff Taylor.

Other info gleamed: He's a good friend of Marcus Williams (currently of the Warriors), and modeled some of his game after him, since they are both lefties.  Kenny Anderson, too, who was a great lefty.

He's not a James Bond fan, but he did love the last Batman movie.  He's going to buy a Range Rover, and do some rolling on dubs.  He has been to the Coliseum.  Jennings did not get to go against Rick Rubio, at least not yet.  Oh, and Vote for Obama!

Here is a link to some shoddy footage of Brandon scoring some rare points in Rome:

And Brandon hitting a jumper:

Finally, let's remember how good Jennings is, by replaying the highlights of him at the Elite 24 in 07, when he was only 16:

Real quick post on the Knicks-Mavs game on Sunday.  The Knicks, as you might know by now, blew a seven point lead with a couple of minutes to go in this game, then lost it in overtime.  The Knicks came out with guns blaring, dropping 35 points in the first quarter, and hitting everything in sight (Randolph was something like 7 for 7 to start the game). 

And just how nice was this play, early in the second quarter?:


Anyway, let's just call this game on of those games - there are about 2 to 4 of them a season.  If you've watched the NBA enough over the past 10 years, you'll know what I'm talking about.  It's the Violet Palmer game. 

Here's what ESPN's Bill Simmons once wrote about Violet Palmer:

Violet Palmer – Here's what I wrote about her four months ago: "During last week's Celtics game, the legendary Violet Palmer was involved, who deserves her own 'SportsCentury' at some point. Nobody has ever been worse at their job, in any vocation – not even the people who work at Home Depot selling Christmas trees. When Violet started officiating a few years ago, she was so incompetent, players and coaches actually avoided arguing with her – whenever she screwed up, they would always glance around helplessly, the same way you would if your puppy dropped a deuce on the living room carpet. But now she's been around for a few years and people are fed up. On Monday night, Doc Rivers was one bad Violet call away from ending up in a white Bronco with Al Cowlings. I love this stuff."

D'Antoni tried sweet talking Violet Palmer early in the first half... the MSG network had the mics on, and it was one of their spotlight conversations. 

But here is how you know it was a Violet Palmer game:  when none of the calls (and non-calls) seemed to make sense, or have any rhyme or reason to them.  When the other two refs in the crew are unable to make proper calls, either, because they are either too busy double-checking Violet, or staying out of it because they don't know what she is going to call.

I was going to go through the footage of the game and highlight some of the spottier calls, but honestly... I don't feel like watching that game a second time.  Here are some of the calls I took notes on during the game:

-Quentin Richardson late in the fourth, failed to draw a charge despite clearly having his feet planted and being outside the restricted zone.  It's generally an easy call.  Instead Q-Rich was hit with a blocking foul.

-The odd play in which Nate Robinson went up to tip in a shot by Wilson Chandler.  The ball was still over the cylinder, so Nate did not touch the ball, but he did hit the rim.  At first Violet whistled him, correctly, for offensive interference and negated the basket.  Then she changed her mind when the Knicks argued that Nate did not touch the ball (which it appeared he did not).  

That she changed her mind seems pretty odd.  Nate touching the rim alone was sufficient to let the offensive interference call stand.  Even if most refs wouldn't call it (unless the rim touch effect it enough to have caused the bouncing basketball to go in), it was still the correct call initially.  So why change it?  Did she really think Nate might have touched the ball at first, until the other refs told her that was not the case?  If that's what happened, then she must not visually be able to tell that a Nate's hand hitting the front of the rim was nowhere near the ball, which was on the back iron of the rim?!?

If you didn't see the play, then my description probably isn't helping.  Let's just say it was a weird call, and a weirder reversal, and leave it at that.

-There was a lot of contact on Quentin Richardson's attempt to take the lead with about seven seconds to go in the game.  Check it out for yourselves, at the 1:35 mark of this recap:


 Now the general "rule" on most end of game shots is a) there has to be sufficient contact (no touch fouls will be called, unless you are a superstar).  But one could argue both that Q-Rich was suffiicently contacted, and that there was more than enough time on the clock for the Mavs to call timeout, and set up a decent shot of their own to tie/win the game (provided Q-Rich hit his free throws).  I would wager that maybe 60-70% of the refs in the league would have called that foul.  I could be wrong.

The larger point: the whole second half was bizarrely officiated.  As is generally the case when Violet Palmer is an official, the calls don't really make sense.  And no, they weren't necessarily anti-Knicks, or pro-Mavs.  That's not really the point of my post.  The Knicks probably benefit has much from the weird calls as they suffered.  It's just that it becomes really hard to figure out what is going on.

The Knicks attempted 10 free throws in the 2nd quarter.  They attempted 3 in the 3rd quarter, and NONE in the fourth. 

In the second quarter (during which Violet Palmer was stationed under the Dallas Mav's basket, not the Knicks) the Knicks weren't even driving that much.  Most of their shots were from the outside. Only one shot - a miss - was from inside the paint, and that was a failed attempt to tip the ball in.

In the fourth quarter (Violet Palmer's basket is now the one the Knicks are attempting to score on), the Knicks missed four shots in the paint area, and in general took more shots inside.  See for yourself.

Despite playing more aggressively in the fourth than in the second, the Knicks did not draw any free throws.  This is a hallmark of a Violet Palmer game.  The tendency in those games, from what I've noticed, is that teams tend to get more calls on outside shots than in inside shots (which is counterintuitive, since inside shots generally tend to lead to more contact than outside shots). 

In summary:  Whether you win or lose a Violet Palmer officiated game, the best thing to do is disregard any deep meaning, and just treat it like an exhibition game or something.  You do what you can to win the game, but you also have to accept that whatever it is that you did to win (or lose) the game might not work the same way if this game had been managed by "real" officials.

File under: whining about one particular ref; things that make me grudgingly agree with Bill Simmons; who watches the watchmen?  

2007-2008 NYK average points per game:  96.9

21st in the NBA


2008-2009 NYK average points per game: 105.7

1st in the NBA


2007-2008 NYK number of games scored over 120 points in regulation:  1

0-1 record in those games (vs. Indiana in the 82nd and final game of the season)


2008-200 NYK number of games scored over 120 points in regulation:  2

2-0 record in those games (through 10 games so far)


2007-2008 NYK games in which they topped 110 points during regulation:  7

82 possible games (8.5%)


2008-200 NYK number of games in which they topped 110 points during regulation:  5

10 possible games (50.0%)


2007-2008 NYK number of quarters in which they topped 30 points:  46

328 possible quarters (14.0%)


2008-200 NYK number of quarters in which they topped 30 points:  12

40 possible quarters (30.0%)


2007-2008 NYK quarters in which they scored 22 or less points:  129

328 possible quarters (39.3%). 

Bonus non-stat: Almost all games in which the Knicks scored 30 or more points in a quarter they also offset it with at least one “22 or less” quarter.


2008-2009 NYK number of quarters in which they scored 22 or less points  9

40 possible games (22.5%)


If Shawty = 10.0

Proper response: You should tip her.

Shawty is actually more of a seven and a half, maybe an eight.












Take a chance on me:

2007-2008 NYK games in which they had at least 23 assists as a team:  13

82 possible games (15.9%).


Top games: 29 vs the Milwaukee (OT game), and 28 vs. the Chicago Bulls.

Undeniably true: Only had 7 assists in a game against the Lakers last season. 


2008-2009 NYK games in which they have had at least 23 assists as a team:  5

10 possible games (50%).


Top games: 36 vs. Washington, and 30 vs. Dallas.  Both are higher than last season’s “high”.


2008-2009 NYK possible All-Stars?  2


Jamal seems like such a nice guy, doesn't he?







The Zach attack has risen, bringing flava to ya ear like Craig Mack.







Possible Coach of the Year (if the Knicks finish at or above .500):

What is that, the Forrest Gump award?!?


Possible speech upon winning award: "Y'all thought I was an idiot for taking the money in New York over the Bulls job.  Well, if I had taken the Bulls job, all the credit would have gone to Derrick Rose, and the young talent, and nobody would have handed me an award, even if they had won 55 games.  In New York, on the other hand, I look like a genius for winning 40 games at the NBA's version of Chenobyl!  Crown me, media schlubs.  You can put me in your Hall of Fame now."


My favorite alternative colour: BLUE, no wait... PURPLE.


Undeniably true: Current Leading 6th Man of the Year Candidate:

What is going on in this photo?  It's like a Caravaggio painting or something... 
































Number of months that weird kid singing "Su-su-studio" was on the front page of 4


We back.  Maybe.


Possible Most Improved Player:  Generally tends to be a second-year or third-year player who makes “the leap” (see Monta Ellis, Boris Diaw, Zach Randolph, or Gilbert Arenas for recent examples): 

Will the Thrill, per Alan Hahn of Newsday.
























Not the architect:

We like Donnie.





















Unless you think that drafting a 19-year version of 35-year old Peja Stojakovic and picking up Chris Duhon (a lovely point guard, but still a second stringer on most teams) is the reason for the Knicks marked improvement.


Knicks scoring average in April 2008: 107.33


Not available or playing that month: Stephon Marbury & Eddy Curry


In the starting lineup that month: Wilson Chandler 


Must have been paying attention: Mike D'Antoni.


Finally, from 82games:


The Knicks shot an eFG% of 54.5% when they shoot 0-10 seconds into the shotclock.


Welcome to the most exciting possibly .500 team in the NBA.

HT: Gothic Girl

Even in 1986, I think a 10 year old named Duffy, who likes computers and dancing to Phil Collins, who be considered Uber-nerd:

The NFL Fantasy File commercials have been a favorite of mine for a while.  Fake as hell, but still pretty cool.  Here is the Braylon Edwards commercial, which I think is the first one of these, from over two years ago:

Now, here are some of the newer ones, which are a bit sleeker and cooler.

Kicker Mason Crosby:

Next is Chris Chambers showing off his catching ability:

Here is Washington TE Chris Cooley, showing off his "strength" and "catching" abilities at once:

A few more... here is NE Laurence Maroney, in my favorite of these commercials:

And lastly, here is Jets kicker Mike Nugent, if only because it's probably the only Jet you'll see doing a commercial (pre-Favre, that is):

by DJM on August 12 at 4:51PM

SML only put up a HEAVILY EDITED version of my EFFING GENIUS play when he sent it into The Big Lead where it was published. I know you all wanted to read the full version complete with sandwich jokes. So here it is, baby.

Dramatis Personae:

President Emomalii Rahmon (I did not make this name up)

Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov (I effing swear I didn’t make this up)

Their Chief Advisor Steve (this one I made up)

Rasul Bogiev, National Hero


Emomalii: Gentlemen! The Olympic Games are fast approaching. We must act.

Oqil:     They have acting in the Olympics now?

Emomalii: Oqil, pipe down. Now as you no doubt know, our country has never won an Olympic medal. This must be our year.

Oqil: Gentlemen! I have an idea.

Emomalii: What?

Oqil: We should order sandwiches. (pause) I’m craving a good sandwich. Like a really nice sandwich.

Emomalii: Oqil, what is your fucking issue?

Oqil: That I haven’t had meat pressed between bread in like four months. Excuuuuuuuse me, Mr. President if I’m hungry.

Emomalii: I will. Just this once. Now can we please focus on the task at hand and figure out how the hell we’re going to win an Olympic medal? We have to compete against everybody in the world if we want to win one. The rest of the world. You know what the rest of the world has that we don’t?

Oqil: Sandwiches?

Emomalii: Everything. Everything. I don’t even know what we’re supposed to do. Steve? (pause) STEVE! Wake up, damn you!

Steve: Yes Your President?

Emomalii: Don’t call me Your President. Call me Emomamlii.

Steve: I can’t pronounce that.

Emomalii: Just repeat after me: Emomalii.

Steve: Imoemali.

Emomalii: Whatever. What Olympic events are there this year that we might medal in?

Steve: Swimming?

Emomalii: Our entire GDP can’t purchase even one of those magic bathing suits.

Steve: Diving?

Emomalii: Nobody in our country has seen more than six combined drops of water since 1993. How are we supposed to practice diving?

Steve: Rowing?

Emomalii: I think it would be best if we moved entirely off of the water events, OK? It's only rained 1 combined inch in my entire lifetime, we're double landlocked, and the whole place is completely arid. The last time I had something to drink it was a sort of translucent liquid out of an unlabeled bottle. It tasted like open scissors. Our biggest body of water is my Presidential bathtub which doesn’t have a faucet attached to it. I think we can safely assume that if our medal comes at all it will come in a terrestrial event.

Oqil: If there were an Olympics for sandwich denial, you’d win the gold. THE GOLD.

Emomalii: Steve, please execute the Prime Minister.

(he does so)

Emomalii: Now then. What else?

Steve: Running?

Emomalii: Can’t do it. The Russians stole our tracks and the Georgians stole our fields. It can’t be shooting. All of our guns are from 1771 and none of them shoot straight. We can’t mine enough metal to smelt a single blade, so fencing’s out. Many brave and heroic men have tried to explain to me what exactly a pole vault is and I still can’t quite picture it.

Steve: We could turn on the television and watch it.

Emomalii: If we had electricity. It can’t be gymnastics because the average size of our 16 year old girls is 6’4’’ 220. Kilos. When we pick up racquets that shit is worstminton. And when we try to racewalk, we just run. We just run, Steve. What are we supposed to do?

(a knock on the door)

Steve: Come in.

(the door opens. Rasul Bogiev comes in, carrying a single sheet of paper)

Rasul: Your President, we found a sheet of paper and we thought you should have it.

Emomalii: Don’t call me that.

Rasul: He told me to.

Emomalii: Give the paper to Steve.

(Rasul attempts to hand the paper to Steve, but instead takes him down with a complicated martial arts move and then stands triumphantly over his supine body)

Rasul: Sorry Your President. I just can’t help myself. This skill comes naturally to me.

Emomalii: Does it now, Rasul? Does it now? Too bad there isn’t an Olympics of knocking people over.

Oqil: (struggling back to life) Or of sandwich-related treachery for you would RULE THE DAY! (he dies again)

Steve: But maybe, just maybe there is.

(Emomalii and Rasul turn expectantly to Steve)

Steve: Now listen closely, gentlemen. I have an idea. A crazy, crazy idea…



The Big Lead put up the second part of our (DJM certainly contributed heavily to these posts) Olympic Country Previews.  It got really nice feedback from the commenters, which probably means TBL doesn't allow Albanians to comment.  Not a bad idea, actually....

We won't repost all of the countries here, just our favorite 15:

The Gambia - One of those cool countries with a name that starts with an article, like The Ukraine, The U.S, The U.K, The Bronx, The O.C., The Honduras, El Salvador, and Le Banon.
Georgia - Located on the Black Sea (it looks darker at night), Georgia is a country that is both in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Let that sink in for a second. It just blew your fucking mind, didn’t it? The country’s population is less than 5,000,000, and over a million live in the capital city of T’bisili (pronounced “At-lan-ta”).
Germany - WILL WIN EVERY EVENT. STAY OUT OF GERMANY’S WAY. Seriously, they haven’t tried to take over the world in like seventy years. They’ve gotta scratch that itch someday. Let’s not piss them off.
Great Britain - Once ruled the world. Now has a chance to take the silver in rowing. Hail Britannia!
Guatemala - Has never won a medal in the Olympics. Like Ecuador, their best bet is a racewalker, Julio Rene Martinez. Seriously, we still can’t believe the racewalk is an actual event. What’s next, the 100m pogo stick?
Guyana - The majority of Guyana’s GDP comes from kidnapping ransom payments.
Iraq - The Iraqi Olympic team will be made up entirely of US contractors. Expect them to do well. And then to kill everyone.
Ireland - Hasn’t done as well since bare-knuckle drunken boxing was removed as an event in 1984.
Israel - Ready to piss off almost everyone? Here we go: Please see “Palestine.”
Italy - With Manu Ginobili heading their basketball team, they should… wait, he’s from where?!?
Jamaica - Gwan witcha boi self, bumbleclot. Or something.
Japan - Great fun joy exciting sporting of match to win medal honoring fantastic! Neat-o!

Kosovo - Not yet an Olympic country, as they just declared independence from Serbia in Feb. Is currently recognized by 43 countries, including the US and 20 of the 27 EU nations. Also, as is the tradition in these parts, the Serbian minority in Albanian Kosovo is thinking of parting ways with Kosovo. The Former Yugoslavia: “Ready to start a World War? Consider the Balkans!”
Kuwait - The population of Kuwait is 3.5 million, but only 340K can vote. That’s because the majority of the population is made of non-nationals - over 2 million, mostly immigrants from Asia (Indians being the at the top of the list). It’s like the US, where 200 million people can vote, but only 62 actually do.
Kyrgyzstan - Would like to buy a vowel, please.
Mali - Sometimes gets the mail for Bali by accident.
Malta - Endangered by the presence of the Puerto Rican team, which often tries to “drink” the Malta team.
Micronesia - An unfair advantage in gymnastic events, due to their people’s tiny, tiny size.
Monaco - Only ever wears a lens in front of one eye.
Myanmar - Will likely take the gold in Men’s Team Monk Beating (new event this year).
Netherlands - They’re letting hell compete now? That’s hardly fair.
Netherlands Antilles - It is scheduled to disband on December 15th, 2008. Yep, this is the last time you’ll see these islands competing together. At least until the inevitable reunion tour. “Back together one more time, for the last time. With special guest appearances by Antigua!”
Niger - Racist.

For the full list, check out this post on The Big Lead.

I went to go see The Wackness over the weekend, with another friend of mine that grew up in NYC.  The Wackness is a pretty generic coming of age story, about a 17-year old boy in NYC in 1994, in the last summer before heading out to college.  It won an Audience Award at Sundance, but it is mostly typical stuff - selling drugs, meeting crazy people, summer romance, bonding between older misguided guy and younger lost male, etc.  In fact, it may go off on too many tangents at times, sort of losing its focus.  Much like a 17-year old's attention span.

We (the NYCers) enjoyed it more than the rest of our crowd.  For example, Canadian DJM certainly did not seem very fond of the movie.  So my guess is that it will appeal more to people who were around in NYC in the early 90's, and who love hip-hop music from that era.

Now, before we get to the things the movie's director got wrong, let's give them props on the things they got right:  they captured the vibe of riding the subway pretty well.  Some really good choices on the music - Nas' Illmatic, Biggie, and the Wu-Tang headline the soundtrack.  The first half of the movie had me reciting lines and nodding my head as classic joints such as "The World Is Yours" and "Heaven & Hell" came on.

Unfortunately, the 1994 vibe got a little mashed in my mind, as the mixtape soundtrack started digging into music from other years.  For example, "Summertime" is certainly a classic joint, but isn't that really a 1991 track?  By 1994 he was no longer the Fresh Prince; just Will Smith, TV star.  Ditto Biz Markie's "Just A Friend".  Great tracks, no doubt, but if the vibe was to go for a 1994 feel, here are some rap artists that were getting heavy radio airplay at the time in NYC:  Black Moon (and Smif N Wessun), Naughty By Nature, Onyx (yes, they suck, but in the interest of being historically accurate: they were huge back then), Mobb Deep.  Non-East Coast rappers from that period with heavy rotation: Outkast, Da Brat, Dre and Snoop, Bone Thugs N Harmony.

To be fair, Only Built For Cuban Linx didn't really come out in 1994; it goes Wu-Tang in 1993, building up until the Method Man and ODB solo albums in 1994, then Rae's iconoclastic album in 1995.  Nitpicking, admittedly, but still... details count.

Similarly, there are two recurring running themes in the movie about 1994 NYC that seemed off-track to me: One is the "Things sure have changed since Giuliani took over".  It's heard a bit in the movie, and it strikes us as an attempt to sort of revisionism.  The writer is trying to impose a thought that, while absolutely true in retrospect, was not on the minds of people living in the city at the time.

In 1994, we were just in year one of Rudy's reign.  He was only then starting to sell his "broken windows" plan, in which minor crimes would be prosecuted vigorously in an attempt to lower overall crime.  Back in 1994, no one really saw where this was all going - even one year of reduced crime (crime peaked in NYC in 1992, and has been falling steadily since) wasn't an actual trend just yet. 

It's interesting to note how Giuliani's legacy evolved, devolved, and re-evolved over time.  In his first term, he slowly took charge of a city that was a bit battered and divided during the Dinkins administration.  Dinkins never got a fair shake in some respects - the later crime reduction was a combination of Dinkins' policies, Giuliani's policies, and overall sustained economic growth.  But the bottom line is that Giuliani took over a city that was still hurting from a vicious crack epidemic, and related crime increases, that dominated the late 80's and early 90's. 

By the time he ran for re-election in 1997, Giuliani was King of the City.  He was easily re-elected.  He wasn't completely hated, even in poor neighborhoods.  It was in his second term that he become even more intolerant of dissent.  He refused to deal with certain minority community leaders.  He sent cops into minority neighborhoods, and treated them like war zones. People in those neighborhoods were viewed with eternal suspicion, and were more likely to be arrested by police than helped.  He openly supported cops in some questionable police brutality/abuse situations - Patrick Dorismond, later Diallo. 

He had worn out his welcome by 2000.  He would have been thrashed by Hillary Clinton in the Senate race, and so he pulled out of that race (blaming it on the cancer treatment), all while being a lame duck mayor.

I can recall attending a conference in 1999 or 2000, in which prominent NYC historian Mike Wallace spoke.  He told great stories about NYC - the history of NYC, how it became incorporated in 1898, how Brooklyn at various times in NYC history contemplated becoming its own independent city.  At one point, he was asked by an audience member to give an opinion on "how history would remember Rudy Giuliani's reign".

This was pre-9/11, of course.  Professor Wallace's response was along the lines of "crime-reduction is nice, but it's cyclical.  It happens regardless of who is Mayor, generally due to economic conditions.  The crime reduction of the late 90's will likely get attributed to economy's upbeat, and being that it is the only real accomplishment of the Giuliani administration, he will likely not be viewed as much of a significant mayor."

Certainly 9/11 changed that to a degree, and gave Giuliani a chance at an encore in politics (this year's fail Presidency bid).   But the larger point is this:  in 1994, nobody had a clue where Giuliani was taking this city, or what his legacy would be.

Similarly, the other major recurring theme in the movie is that "Ready to Die (the Notorious B.I.G.'s first album) was something everyone recognized immediately as... truly significant".

Nope.  In 1994 Ready to Die was a great album, sure.  It got 5 mics.  But it is revisionism to imply that people really went that ga-ga over the album when it came out. 

See, I've always argued that Biggie's aura grew because he was slain.  If Suge Knight (just kidding) had killed Nas instead of Biggie, we would recognize Nas as the greatest rapper of all-time.  It's only fair; he does have the greatest album in hip-hop history (Illmatic). 

In fact, in 1995, it was highly controversial when, at the First Annual Source Awards (they actually mattered that first year, too... people forgot how important stuff like The Source magazine, MTV Raps, Video Music Box, etc. were to the development and spreading of hip-hop) the Notorious B.I.G. won lyricist of the year over Nas. 

In any event, minor quibbles aside, The Wackness did a decent job of capturing some of the vibe of early 90's NYC.  It works well as a compliment to movies like Juice, which showcased the grittier aspects of the city at the time.  The Wackness showcases the heart of the city, the crazy characters that once filled the streets of NYC, now only to be seemingly lost over the years....

Hey, here's what we have been up to lately... first, I did a (controversial) post over at Sports On My Mind, partially on Manny Ramirez, partially on the Olympic Swimsuit Controversy.  I got into some trouble because I clearly implied that the Speedo swimsuit might be a red herring to cover up for possible steroid abuse among swimmers.  I really meant to just put out there the possibility, citing the similarities to MLB in the late 90's.  I certainly have no insight into whether or not swimmers are actually doping, nor do I care if they are. 

Simply: I have only two interests in this story - one is the weird sort of inequity in how technological advancements in sports are viewed by the media and fans, versus biological advancements.  In other words, it's totally cool that a  really expensive swimsuit can shave swimming times by 2%, but pumping extra oxygen into your blood, which should have a similar effect on times, is considered "cheating".  The second interest I had in the story is that it just seemed to remind me a bit of the situation in the late 90's in baseball, where excuses were being offered up for why home runs were being hit at a record-shattering pace.

Secondly, we were working on a post which you can view over here at The Big Lead, on the Olympics.  We are honored to be covering the Olympics, as needed, for TBL.  Make sure to check out The Big Lead.  We did a Olympic Country Preview, a few sentence long, for each country participating in the 2008 Summer Olympics.  Rather than to reprint the entire thing here, we will add in some of the lost links (TBL wasn't able to include our links in his post, apparently):

Afghanistan - Has a chance to medal this year, because the US will be too focused on beating Iraq.
Albania - Albanians really hate two things: Serbs, and SML.
Algeria - They have lost actual wars to France; nuff said.
American Samoa - Just won gold over Thinmintistan.
Andorra - The highest life expectancy in the world, at 85.5 years. Too bad there is nothing to do there.
Angola - Note: a country, not a lovely, lovely sweater.
Antigua and Barbuda - The Hall & Oates of Islands, this duo has been putting out hits since teaming up in ‘81. Also possesses one of the coolest flags in the world. We can’t decide if it the flag is a picture of the sun setting on a white sand beach, as viewed through a parting in a pair of sun-tanned legs, or the Don’t Walk signal giving birth to Maggie Simpson.
Argentina - Won the World Cup in ‘78 and the Falklands War in ‘82, and not much else since then. (SML note: actually, they won a WC in 1986, and lost the Falklands War, so ignore this).
Armenia - Popcorn at theatres comes in medium, large, and geno-sized!
Aruba - Bobby Brown to the Netherlands Antilles’ New Edition, breaking off to go solo about 20 years ago. Does that make the islands of Curacao and Bonaire the equivalent of Bell Biv Devoe? Answer: No.
Australia - The only country in the world that’s also its own continent. Until we formally announce our takeover of Mexico.
Austria - Well then: G’day, mate! Let’s put another shrimp on the barbee!
Azerbaijan - The finest country in the NE of Eurasia. Or the SW of Africa. Admit it: you have no idea.
Bahamas - A sheep terrorist group.
Bahrain - One of two countries in the world with no income tax. Probably because they have no income.
Bangladesh -Hey, Bangladesh: justify your flag. I don’t mean “explain its reason for being” I mean “center that shit.” Come on. That slight right lean is just… unsettling.
Barbados - Barbados always wins silver medals. They inevitably lose to Barbaduno, but just beat out Barbatres.
Belarus - Their country name means “Beautiful Russia” in Italian, unless it doesn’t, in which case never mind.
Belgium - Will eventually peacefully split into a Dutch North (Flemish), a French South (Walloon), and Brussels. Belgium is the new Yugoslavia. We wonder which side will hate our website.
Belize - Home to the town of San Pedro, a.k.a. Madonna’s “Isla Bonita”, or “Your Spanish Lullaby”. Oddly enough, San Pedro is neither an island nor Spanish (it’s a former British colony), though. Thus proving Madonna is, in fact, not very bright.
Benin - In text language, this country is B9. LOL!
Bermuda - They have tried to send a team to the Olympics before, but every time the team plane disappears upon leaving the island.
Bhutan - The Bhutan flag has a scary-type dragon on it. We want the Bhutan flag to fight the Albanian flag in a scary dragon match. And we want Albania to lose because FUCK ALBANIA. Just kidding, Albania. You know we love you.
Bolivia - Favorite Bolivian Mark joke: SML: “What’s up with these empanadas? They have no meat inside them! They’re like emptynadas!” Bolivian Mark: “Well, then they are just nadas, aren’t they?”
Bosnia-Herzegovina - As is the case with all former Yugoslavian republics, it will eventually split into Bosnia, Herze, and Govina. The Former Yugoslavia: 7 billion independent molecules.
Botswana - You know how Liberia was founded by freed slaves? Well, Botswana was founded by freed robots.
Brazil - In the 2004 Olympics, there was the sad case of Brazilian windsurfer Ricardo Winicki, whose 17th place finish in the last leg of the race caused him to drop from 1st place all the way to fourth, missing a medal by just one point. After that he changed his name to Ricardo Defeaticki. He’ll be trying again this year in windsurfing.
British Virgin Islands - Yep, their teeth are that bad.
Brunei Darussalam - We made up one fictional country on this list, but shockingly, it’s not this one. Hint: it’s Canada.
Bulgaria - Jordan Jovtchev has won four Olympic medals, plus 12 World Championship medals. He has not, however, succeeded in his various attempts to pass Stage One of the Ninja Warrior tournament. Pussy.
Burkina Faso - The only country whose name could be preceded by “Ms.”.
Burundi - Venuste Niyongabo won the only medal in Burundi’s history in 1996, when he took the gold in the 5000 meter race, an event he had competed in only twice before. He was a 1500 meter runner, but decided to forfeit his place so his coach could be an Olympian for the first time in his life. In doing so he instead decided to give the 5000 meter race a shot, and unexpectedly won. He’s now King. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not.
Cambodia - Will be represented by marathon runner Hem Bunting (also a popular sewing technique). The BBC describes him as “so poor he lives in the crumbling athletics stadium where he trains”. He has so little funding that he can’t even afford to buy running shoes. His training involves running in the pollution-filled air of Phnom Penh, so Beijing’s smog won’t bother him too much. You can watch him in action on August 24th. Unless his lungs collapse before then.
Cameroon - Coconut cookies! Delicious!
Canada - Despite what you’ve heard, DJM is NOT actually Canadian. He just over-enunciates and is suspiciously polite. Expect Canada to win some medals, and then excuse themselves for showing off.
Cape Verde - The name is Spanish for “Cabo Green”.
Cayman Islands - Consists of the islands of Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, and Cayman Brac (”The Littlest Cayman”).
Central Africa Republic - Good country name. Just describes where and what it is. We should rename the United States “Central North American Federalist Republic and Waffle House.” People love waffles.
Chad - Gets teased by almost all the other African countries for having “such a white name”. The African countries of Jordan and Bradleyburg empathize.
Chile - It’s where beans come from.
China Republic - Is also the name of a restaurant with very speedy delivery.
Chinese Taipei - The Republic of China strongly opposes the use of the name “Taiwan”, which implies that it is an independent country. So the rest of the world has taken to using the name “Chinese Taipei”. Therefore Taipei has taken to calling China “The Happy People’s Republic of Dumb Dumb Stupid Land”. We’ll see if it sticks.
Colombia - For some strange reason, they always get invited to all the Olympic Village parties.
Comoros - Small group of four island located near Madagascar. Since its independence from France in 1975, it has had over 20 coups d’etat. On the bright side, it hasn’t had a coup since March 25th, though August is coup season in Comoros.
Congo - Please see “DR Congo.”
DR Congo - Please see “Congo.”
Cook Islands - The islands were “discovered” by Captain James Cook, who named them “the Harvey Islands”, after the six foot bunnies that inhabited the island. They were later renamed by Adam Johann von Krusenstern, an Estonia-German explorer for Russia. If they work hard enough, one day they might become “The Chef Islands.”
Costa Rica - In Spanish, their name means “costs a lot”.
Cote-d´lvoire - The only country in the world made entirely out of tusks. Note: Tuscany is not a country. Trick question.
Croatia - In 2004 they finished fourth in Men’s Team Albanian Toss. They were able to toss an Albanian 14.2 meters, but were bested by Macedonia, Slovenia, and Herzegovina (which spent that year separated from Bosnia).
Cuba - Has won 170 Olympic medals - one for every year Castro has been in power.
Cyprus - Has not won a medal yet in Olympic history. If they did, they would divide it into two pieces, with the northeastern third splitting off from the southwestern portion.
Czech Republic - Not on the Euro, so it’s the one nice European country that still somewhat affordable to visit. Also, DJM is moving there in September. Send money.
Denmark - Men in Denmark are the latest to get married in the EU, at an average of 32 years. Oh, and this is also the happiest country in the world, according to studies. Hmm.
Djibouti - Q: Where was the Greek soldier when the German army attacked? A: In Djibouti!
Dominica - Wait, is this a country or a club in Washington Heights? Hey ya’ll, it’s ladies night at Dominica! [Ed. TBL relatives are pissed!]
Dominican Republic - Their president, and their only-ever Olympic medalist, are both from New York. Sort of sums things up.
Ecuador - Has won one medal, in 1996, when Jefferson Perez got the gold in, ahem, the RACEWALK (20 km). He finished fourth in 2000 and 2004, and will be trying hard (but not too hard) to win a second medal in 2008. He was born in a poor neighborhood, and now he has become the first person in history to ever walk his way out of the poverty.
Arab Rep. of Egypt - Egypt has won a lot of medals, all of which are on display at the British Museum in London.
El Salvador - Involved in a 100-hour war against El Honduras after a soccer game loss in 1969. Absolutely true.
Equatorial Guinea - Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British PM Margaret Thatcher, is wanted here for participating in a 2004 plot to overthrow the government that involved hiring mercenaries and soldiers of fortune, arms smuggled in from Zimbabwe, and shady oil money. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio!
Eritrea - Country? Heart medication? Transformer? Why can’t it be all three?
Estonia - Estonia Aleksander Tammert won a bronze in the Men’s Discus Throw in 2004. He finished 4th originally. He got bumped up after the original gold medal winner (Robert Fazekas of Hungary) was disqualified. Not for doing drugs, but for failing to provide a drug sample, or as it turned out, failing to submit a large enough urine sample. That’s right, he suffered from Parusesis, or pee shyness. That’s the social anxiety disorder in which a sufferer is unable to urinate in the real or imagined presence of others! Also known as shy kidney, bashful bladder, stage fright, and urinophobia.
Ethiopia - They have won 31 medals overall. Come on, I’ll give you one guess in what events they do well in. That’s right, goat herding.
Fiji - The two most famous Fijians in the world are Vijay Singh (generally considered Indian), and Jimmy Snuka (generally considered Superfly). Their best hope for a first ever medal is female Judo-ist Sisilia Nasiga, who also competed at the 2004 Olympics. There is also Carl Probert, a 33-year old swimmer competing in his fifth Olympic games. He will probably lose to Carl Antibert, his sworn nemesis.
Finland - The most sparsely inhabited country in EU. It has the third-highest suicide rate in the world. Coincidence?
France - French women have the highest age expectancy in the EU. This is because, as Joan of Arc proved, French women are indestructable.
Gabon - Gabon, Gaboff, the Gabber. Sorry, we’ve got nothing. 

Spring Training 08

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