28 April 2009

A treatise on the history of the Lakers

The Lakers have been an exceptionally successful franchise. The team has failed to reach the playoffs only five times in 60 years. They have won 14 NBA titles and 21 conference championships during that time.

In the last 30 years, the Lakers have won 8 titles and missed the playoffs just twice, in addition to winning the WCF 14 times. 16 times they've made it to the conference finals.

That means that over half the time over the last three decades L.A. is one of the four best teams in the league, and often the best.

Any time the Lakers look like they're about to take a downturn, something saves the franchise from being mediocre. In 1975, the Lakers traded Elmore Smith, Brian Winters, Dave Meyers and Junior Bridgeman to the Bucks for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In 1979, it'd been almost a decade since the Lakers' last title. Somehow the team acquired the number one pick (they won 47 games in the 78-79 season) and got Magic Johnson.

In 1983, they again had the first pick overall in the draft (despite winning 58 games the season prior) and acquired James Worthy.

In 1996, the Lakers had not won a championship for five years. Things were not looking good, and then the Hornets traded the rights to Kobe Bryant to L.A for Vlade Divac, who left Charlotte after two seasons to sign with the Kings as a free agent.

In 1999, the Kobe and Shaq Lakers had the talent to win it all but could not get it done. Suddenly, Phil Jackson wanders into town and they immediately win three straight championships.

And then in 2008, five years removed from the last of those three championship runs, they trade Kwame Brown for Pau Gasol and are right back in the thick of things.

It's interesting to me that the Lakers somehow manage to attain first overall draft picks and extremely favorable trades on a consistent basis. Teams would kill to be the beneficiaries of just one trade like those listed above.

Can someone please explain how the Jazz can manage the same thing? I'd like to receive first overall picks after winning 50 games the season prior. I'd like to trade Andrei for Dwight Howard. I'd like to move Jarron Collins, Matt Harpring and Brevin Knight for Dwyane Wade. How can I realize this dream?


Congratulations on a spectacularly underwhelming 2008-2009 NBA season, the Utah Jazz. Sure, the plethora of injuries had a major impact on the first half of the season, but then to throw up stink bomb after stink bomb even after your star players were all healthy... that took some skill.

We all enjoyed your historically bad road record, which wouldn't be so troubling if you were merely a horrible team, but you consistently won at home, showing us glimpses of what you could do if only you would.

And the crowning jewel of the season has to be the trend of going down by 20+ points to your opponent, then rallying back to make it close in the final minutes, only to ultimately fail. I must've seen that movie 20 times this year, and you even capped off your season by going through these same motions yet again in last night's loss to the Lakers.

The Jazz organization needs to make changes. When you go from the Conference Finals to a second-round exit to a first-round exit in succeeding years with the exact same players, something is wrong. I'd like to see Boozer and Okur leave, but that's not likely.

Bottom line, if Utah fields essentially the same team for 2009-2010, I think I'll be taking a break from them. No living and dying with the team, no watching every game I can. Sure, I'll root for them to win, but I'll be investing a lot less into the venture.

Prove me wrong, guys.

22 April 2009

Jazz-Lakers, Game 2

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

I was playing pickup basketball for most of the game last night, but managed to catch the last five minutes or so after I got home.

I think this sums up my experience with the Jazz this season: with Utah down 3 points with 3:16 to go, I had zero confidence that the Jazz would win this winnable game. Zero.

With that said, here are the reactions of some bloggers and sportswriters, compiled by Ball Don't Lie.

Talk Hoops: "Somewhere, I like to think that John Stockton, Karl Malone, Jeff Foster, Greg Ostertag, and Adam Keefe are sitting in a bar somewhere in Park City, Utah and I can imagine them all knee-deep in a pitcher of Harp beer with nothing but silence and a single tear running down each man's face. Because this defensive effort by the Utah Jazz has just been atrocious. It's been really bad all season long but in the first two games of the playoffs, it's bad enough to make Alex English think to himself, "Jesus Christ guys! Let's try moving our feet a little bit out there." The only time that the Utah Jazz looked semi-competent on defense was when the Lakers got sloppy with their outlet passes and seemed to not be very sure where the double team was coming from. Other than that, it was the Harlem Globetrotters played by the Lakers and the Washington Generals on quailudes played by the Jazz."

Lakers Blog: "Say what you want about the Jazz not being as good as the Lakers (and they're not), but Jerry Sloan teams are as likely to lay down in surrender as a Monty Python knight. A continual fight is guaranteed, especially in the playoffs. But nothing witnessed convinced me that Utah has the slightest prayer of taking this series. I'm not even convinced they can play much better, and they never truly threatened to snatch victory from the Lakers' mitts. I imagine balling in Salt Lake will recharge the Jazz's batteries, and probably enough to help avoid a sweep. But that's about the extent of the success, because save a total Laker collapse, they're just not good enough. End of story."

Tim Buckley, Deseret News: 'They shot lights out,' [Deron] Williams said. 'This is a team that tries to blow you away early.' And often does. The Lakers opened 15-of-17 from the field, and finished those first 12 minutes 18-for-21 with just three turnovers. Denver once scored 43 against Utah in the first quarter of a 1985 postseason game. But that 85.7 shooting percentage is the highest ever in a quarter by a Jazz opponent in the playoffs, eclipsing 82.4 percent that Seattle once shot back in 1993."

True Blue Jazz: "I think we can officially declare that the Jazz suck at defense. 86% for the 1st quarter? 60% for the game? I mean, there's no way you win playing like that. I don't know if it is Sloan's system ('hack away and give up the trey') or just the fact that the players aren't buying whatever he's selling, but something needs to change. It cannot be that easy for the Lakers, I don't care if their bigs are going up against guys that have no advantage at all against them. Either change the system or (in the off-season) change the players. Sloan needs to get it too ... if guys aren't buying in, play guys that will (or at least might ... we don't know because they haven't played in forever). And if it's just that this team doesn't fit the system ... change the system. Anything. I don't know how, but change it. This past month has shown us some horrible defense by the Jazz ... and while the team might've 'flipped the switch' offensively, it certainly hasn't flipped on the defensive end."

Yep. If the Jazz management doesn't blow this team up over the summer, I'm done investing my time and energy in them. There are some major flaws that need to be addressed. Keep Deron, Millsap, maybe Brewer, get rid of the rest.

Something has to be done.

19 April 2009

In honor of today's game

From the Garbage Time All-Stars blog:

"Hey! People respected us as recently as February!" sums up the 2008/2009 Utah Jazz season quite well, in my opinion.

What kills me is that the only problems that exist here are mental. Okay, so Boozer isn't 100% healthy, but he's around 90%, right? The problems here are about team chemistry, effort, hustle and heart. 

This means that the Jazz are capable of hanging with the Lakers, if they can get over the issues they're dealing with. 

Let's just say I'm not holding my breath.

16 April 2009

BYU Football, 2009 edition

ESPN.com's Graham Watson feature on BYU, posted today.

Ask any BYU fan, player, coach, or even opponent, and they probably have a theory as to why BYU, the highest-ranked non-BCS team to start 2008, imploded in every big game it played last season.

The Cougars were too tense, too overconfident, too absorbed with all the hype that surrounded the program, too insert-a-theory-here. The team has heard it all.

I like the angle. After all the hype the Cougars were getting last summer, the approach of investigating what went wrong a few months after the fact seems like a good idea.

Give it a read.

14 April 2009

Jazz fall-apartitude

Remember back when the Jazz were on an 11-game winning streak, and only 2 games out of second place in the West?

Yeah, good times.

Then Utah decided to go on a tear, winning 8 of their next 18 games, and here we are. The Jazz sit in the eight spot in the conference, with the possibility to move up to as high as the 6-seed, depending entirely on the play of other teams.

Utah will be seeded:

#6 if Jazz win and Hornets and Mavericks lose.

#7 if Jazz win and either the Hornets or Mavericks win (but not both).

#8 if Jazz lose OR Hornets and Mavericks win.

So bottom line, if the Lakers want to play Utah in the first round, they just have to beat them tonight. 

Or, if they'd rather face someone else, they can up their chances to do so by letting the Jazz win, most likely by resting their starters. 

Of course, as the Jazz have shown recently against Golden State, playing scrubs against Utah is no guarantee of failure. 

What a difference a month makes.

The most popular video on Youtube

Okay, so technically it's the most popular video on the most popular channel on Youtube. But still, holy cow.

12 April 2009

Two helpful items

The first is helpful as you navigate the wonderful world of online comments.

The second helps in other ways that are less likely but larger in importance. Click for a larger size. 

09 April 2009

Thoughts on television

The other day I was chatting with a friend of mine and she mentioned she loved Chuck. Now, I've seen about three minutes total of this show, outside of commercials, and my initial reaction to the show is negative.

When my friend asked me why this was, I had to think about it for a bit, and eventually I came up with a principle when it comes to what I like from television.

I like television shows that are one thing. My sister Amy loves Psych, but I don't really like it because the writers try to make it a comedy and a cop show. As a result, the cop show side suffers badly in that the cases are oversimplified, there is little attention paid to detail, and the "danger" scenes come off as hokey and embarrassing, in my opinion.

And that's exactly what I perceived during my three-minute stint with Chuck. It's a spy show that is also a comedy. Doesn't work for me.

Now, some shows may appear to be two things but are really just one. Scrubs is not trying to be a comedy and a medical drama, it is a comedy set in a hospital. Inversely, House is a medical drama that is funny; it is not trying to be a comedy and a medical drama.

The more I think about it, the more I believe this is limited to comedy attempting to find equal footing with another genre, but I can't think of any other examples where this is the case.

Hmm. More research is required.

06 April 2009

Truehoop tackles "All But the Championship" teams

ESPN's Truehoop blog today covers teams that were great, but not championship-great for extended periods of their history.

It's a long and depressing list.

Especially depressing is the author's take on the Utah Jazz from 1991-2003.

Playing during the Chicago Bulls era of titles is not exactly an excuse. Just ask the Houston Rockets. Most teams on this list do not have nearly as long a window, as the key group of players were not with the team for as long as in Utah's case. From 1984 to 2003, the Jazz made the playoffs each season, but reached the Finals just twice. Some may argue that the true window to win a title began when Jerry Sloan took over as head coach during the 1988-89 season, and while Karl Malone and John Stockton had been paired up since the 1985-86 season, the Jazz did not make it to the Western Conference Finals until 1992. That's when they became title contenders. As we all know, Stockton's career consisted of dishing out over 15,800 assists, which is over 5,000 assists more than Mark Jackson, who is 2nd on the NBA's all-time assists list. Karl Malone, meanwhile, went on to finish 2nd on the NBA's all-time scoring list. To have that kind of talent for so long and not come away with a title is almost unimaginable, if not crushing to a franchise. The window came to an abrupt close in 2003, when Stockton retired and Malone went to the Lakers in a last-ditch effort to win a title. The ultimate kicker? Between 1991 and 2003, Utah's 632 wins were the most in the NBA.

Emphasis mine.

This makes me sad inside. As he says, HOW did the Jazz not win a single championship in all that time? Stockton, arguably the best point guard of all time. Malone, second-leading scorer EVER. Sloan, one of the best coaches of all time.

And with all that, never a single NBA championship.

Bad times.

Color me cynical, but I don't see Utah getting one anytime soon, either.

A jinxed franchise?

The Daily Universe

From today's edition of BYU's student newspaper, The Daily Universe.

05 April 2009

Jazz win on the road!

It took the entire season to do it, but Utah finally beat a Western Conference playoff team on the road, defeating the Hornets 108-94, behind a 41-point first quarter.

The Jazz have now won five of their last six vs. New Orleans. For whatever reason, Utah owns this team.

So here's the optimal playoff scenarios for the Jazz:

Utah (7) defeats Denver (2)
New Orleans (6) defeats San Antonio (3)

Utah (7) defeats New Orleans (6)

and the Jazz are back in the Conference Finals.

I think it'd work. Sure, the Jazz have looked terrible lately, but in general, I think they're better than the Nuggets, and they obviously own the Hornets.

That said, this team needs some serious re-tooling. Obviously the current group will never win it all, so something needs to be done.

03 April 2009

Life on Mars and viewer betrayal

Before we get started, I need to make clear that I am talking about the U.S. edition of Life on Mars, not the U.K. one.

Also: Spoilers ahoy!

Okay, so the wife and I saw the commercials for Mars when they started airing last September. Interesting enough premise: cop named Sam Tyler gets hit by a car in 2008, wakes up as a cop named Sam Tyler in 1973. People use typewriters and there are no cell phones, women are disrespected, hijinks ensue, etc. etc.

Oh, and Tyler wants to get back to 2008, because he was engaged or something. He is not cool with 1973.

Time travel interests me, so I figured I'd give the show a shot. Along the way, it grew on me. Sure, the writers relied way too heavily on Tyler forgetting he was in 1973 and referencing stuff like the internets and DNA evidence, but overall I liked the characters and the storylines were fairly entertaining.

It was fairly clear from the beginning that this was all in Tyler's head, and that he's in a coma in 2008. Then, towards the end of the series (only 17 episodes, similar to the British version's 16) the writers started taking an intriguing direction, where it seemed like everyone in Tyler's world represented a different part of his psyche... or something. The ambiguity kept me coming back. I like TV shows that make me think. See: LOST.

So Mandi and I were having a fun time trying to unravel the whole thing when the show announced the series finale would be April 1. I was impressed that the producers/network had decided to play the BBC card and create an entirely encapsulated story with a beginning and an end instead of following the footsteps of every other U.S. TV show and running it for as long as it got good ratings. This usually pushes shows far beyond the point that they are any good. See: Jump the shark. Smallville comes to mind.

We tuned in to watch the finale on Wednesday night and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. Tyler resolved some daddy issues that had existed for the entire season, he develops a relationship with the girl cop, Annie, and things are good.

At this point, there are a few different directions the show could have taken and not been totally lame.

Instead, the producers inexplicably chose the totally lame option.

In short, Tyler is actually an astronaut on a manned mission to Mars. He's in stasis, and the ship's onboard computer has been creating a reality for his brain to handle the two-year sleep on the way to Mars. And he's not alone. No, the rest of his crew is made up of his fellow cops from his 1973 reality.

Turns out the astronauts were allowed to choose what reality they wanted during their long voyage, and Tyler chose to be a cop in 2008. The ship went through a meteor shower (or something?) which threw a glitch into the computer programming, throwing Tyler's fake reality back into 1973, and inserting things from his real reality into the new fake reality.

Bottom line, nothing on the entire show was real. Nothing.

Now look, outside the hokeyness of the final scene (and really, it was bad), what ticks me off most of all is that the producers and writers betrayed their viewers. TV is all about buying into realities. You are presented with a scenario, a character, a location, and you're asked to suspend your disbelief and go with it, because it'll be fun.

That's what I did with Life on Mars. Sure, the reality the show portrayed every episode was more than likely fake, but I was rooting for Tyler to get back to his real reality. And when it turns out that this real reality is also fake, it's no fun.

The TV show Dallas was a popular prime-time soap opera that ran from 1978-1991. I've never seen a single episode of it, but it's worked it's way into my consciousness by what it did with its 1985 season.

The writers killed off one of the show's main (and more popular characters) as the actor portraying him wanted to leave the show. Fair enough, things like this happen all the time.

Then in 1986, the actor wanted back in, and the show was more than happy to take him back. Oh, but wait, his character is dead, and this isn't the type of show that allows cloning or resurrection.

Solution? Pass off the entire 1985 season as a dream had by one of the other characters.

Let me run that by you again: The writers passed off an entire season of their show as a dream.

That's just crazy. And it's exactly what Life on Mars did on Wednesday. The show's viewers were told that the reality they'd invested time and energy into was fake.

Call me crazy, but something about that rubs me the wrong way. Imagine if the LOST writers did this. Or even a show as trivial as My Name is Earl. Not a good feeling, right?

As I mentioned earlier, the Mars writers had a few directions to take, and in my opinion, they took one of the easier ways out. Ugh.

Oh well. As Mandi said last night, "At least you hadn't been watching the show for six or seven seasons."

But who knows? Maybe one day that will happen. Expect the crazy from writers and you won't be let down, right?

02 April 2009


This is a picture off my back deck from just a few minutes ago.

And one from my front yard.

Now, I was preparing to be bitter about this, seeing as to how it's April and all, but then I was looking back through my blog archive and found this, from June 13 of last year.

A reader asked why I named my blog From the Frozen Wasteland.

Snow earlier today.

Snow on Tuesday.

It's June.

That about sums it up.

So while today's weather may be depressing, it could be worse. It could be an actual summer month in which I'm experiencing snow.

To the Twittersphere!

Thanks to John for linking to this.

I never thought I'd see the day that we, as a society, would create something even more inane than the Facebook status.