27 July 2010

Less than six weeks to go

A reminder of what happened in BYU's opening game last season.

15 July 2010

Old Spice meets BYU

This wins the internet. Nicely done, BYU students involved.

Captain America teaches values

Bring up a child in the way he should go...

Raja rings the bell again

I continue to approve of the changes the Jazz are making lately.

The Deseret Morning News has reported that Utah are prepared to signed Raja Bell, pending Bell passing a physical.

Bell has played few games over the last two seasons. Since going to the Suns in 2008, he's appeared in only 28 games, moving from Phoenix to Golden State to Charlotte. Considering this will be his 11th season in the league, maybe missing all those games means he's got less wear that we expect.

Regardless, Bell is a career 41% shooter from deep, and hit 47% of his 3-pointers while a Sun. He's also known for his tenacious perimeter defense, and seems to have an ability to get under Kobe's skin to some extent.

In short, he's exactly what the Jazz need after losing Korver and Wes Matthews.

As an aside, it's interesting that now that I feel like the Jazz have some pieces that will help them potentially beat the Lakers in a playoff series, the Heat come along and become the team to watch out for if you're contending for a title.

LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Haslem, Mike Miller, Chalmers and Ilgauskas = seven pieces that can easily win it all next season, in my opinion. And the Heat aren't done signing players, either.

Watch out, NBA.

13 July 2010

Al Jefferson to the Jazz

The Utah Jazz have finalized the terms of their expected trade with Minnesota to acquire big man Al Jefferson.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune and The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Jazz have agreed to send two future first-round picks to the Wolves in exchange for Jefferson. The deal is expected to be announced later Tuesday.

Sources told ESPN.com on Monday night that the Jazz and Timberwolves were on the verge of completing a trade that would slot Jefferson's contract into the $14 million trade exception that Utah created earlier this week in its sign-and-trade deal sending Carlos Boozer to the Chicago Bulls.

Excellent news for Jazz fans everywhere. I admit I was worried that Kevin O'Connor and company would stand pat after losing Boozer and Korver, partly in order to save money and partly because there just weren't any great big men free agents available.

But just when I thought the Jazz management couldn't possibly be any dumber, they go do and do something like this and totally redeem themselves.

Jefferson is an excellent replacement for Boozer, and an upgrade in many ways. For starters, he averaged close to 20 and 10 in Minnesota, where he was expected to earn every one of those 20 points on his own in the low block. I expect his scoring to go up at least 6 or 8 points per game this year, just because now he'll have Deron Williams feeding him great passes for easy buckets a few times a game.

In addition, while Jefferson is not exactly a defensive specialist, he blocked 1.3 shot attempts per game last year, and is both taller(6" 10") and has a longer wingspan (7' 2") than Boozer. I am also willing to bet his vertical is higher than Boozer's, as well, which isn't really that difficult considering Carlos can jump about 2 inches off the floor.

He is only 25 (Boozer is 29) and his contract expires in 3 years.

Add in the fact that Jefferson is coming from a perennial loser in Minnesota to a playoff team in the Jazz, and he may find a bit more hop in his step come November.

I like this signing. It may be the biggest trade in the history of the franchise, when all is said and done.

And just like that, I'm excited for the 2010-2011 Jazz season.

Well done, Mr. O'Connor.

09 July 2010

LeBron-O-Mania: The Backlash

After watching LeBron announce he would be signing with Miami last night, I figured Cavs fans would be pretty upset with this decision. Because, you know, it's Cleveland. And their economy is (was) based on LeBron James.

What I did not expect:

1. Cavs fans absolutely frothing at the mouth over LeBron's leaving and

2. Fans from other teams getting very, very upset.

I've read rant after rant about why people are mad, and I think I can organize these rants into five categories.

1. People who feel LeBron betrayed the Cavs.

2. Those who feel LeBron exhibited extreme narcissism in the way he made the announcement.

3. Kobe/Laker fans who fear the Heat now and try to mask their fear by tearing LeBron down and claiming Kobe is clearly the best player in the NBA today.

4. The Heat Triumvirate will never work because look at the Lakers in 2004!

5. LeBron chokes in the playoffs and needs Wade to carry him to a ring. LeBron will clearly be Wade's lackey now.

Obviously there is overlap among the categories, but these are the main elements I see.

And I simply do not agree with any of them.

For starters: loyalty. This is a big one. From the latest Bill Simmons mailbag:
This is a drunk email but I've never felt this betrayed. The deepest circle of hell is reserved for those who betray and LeBron earned his spot.
There are many, many other e-mails that express the idea of betrayal, but this one does it best, I think. To these people I ask, "What did LeBron owe you, exactly?" He single-handedly resurrected your franchise when you drafted him back in 2003. He brought the Cavs out of 17-win seasons into the playoffs, then the Finals, with multiple 50- and 60-win seasons in the books. He averaged 27 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists over those seven seasons, while shooting good percentages that improved every year. He carried teams that would have won 30 games without him.

And he did all this without a single All-Star as a teammate. Every year, Cleveland management were completely unable to find him his Pippen, his Gasol, his Ray Allen. No one in the history of the NBA has won a championship on their own, and LeBron saw the writing on the wall. How patient did you expect him to be? Did you want him to stay with the Cavs for 10, 11, 12 years? At what point would you condone him leaving to chase a ring, like the Karl Malones and Gary Paytons of the league? Is that the legacy you expected him to want? A decade or more of playing with terrible teammates in Cleveland and then grasping onto a Kevin Durant-led franchise when he's 35 for the chance at a title?

For whatever reason, whether it be bad teammates, poor management or sheer failure seeping from the pores of Cleveland, LeBron was not going to get a good shot at winning a championship in Cleveland, and he knew that.

A Simmons reader made this good point:
Think about it, [LeBron] never went to college and has been looked upon as a franchise savior since before he was drafted; now he can live in one of most fun cities in America and play ball with two of his best buddies in the league, and he doesn't have to carry the franchise every night.
I think this has a lot of truth in it. Can you imagine being tasked with saving basketball in your hometown at the age of 18? And then spending the next 7 years giving everything you had to make that happen, only to fail again and again and again? I don't think LeBron has the temperament of a Jordan or Bird; he wants to win, but he doesn't want the weight of an entire franchise on his shoulders forever.

And even in the above cases, do you think Bird stays in Boston forever if his best teammates are Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao? Does Jordan stick around in Chicago if, after seven years, he is playing alongside Delonte West and Anthony Parker? Somehow I doubt it. At some point, loyalty must take a backseat to winning.

Let's not forget that Shaq left Orlando to go to L.A. for his titles. Or that Kobe was very vocal in demanding a trade when his best teammates were Smush Parker and Kwame Brown. These guys want to win, every single one of them, and to single out LeBron as somehow being this immoral individual because he left Cleveland is illogical and inconsistent.

Now let's tackle the next argument: LeBron is cruel and narcissistic in the way he announced he was leaving.

Cavs fans, let's pretend LeBron announced he was leaving in a regular press conference, as is typical in the NBA. ESPN still sends a camera crew. They still have an hour-long special where their analysts debate the topic. Not much is different at all, and would you really hate him less?

It's surprising how many people outright despise the LeBronapalooza Hour, yet the ratings for that thing were through the roof. Blame the millions of Americans for being so predictable that ESPN knew they would watch.

Continuing on, if I have to read another Laker fan rejoicing because now Kobe is beloved and the ultimate champion while LeBron will be a loser forever I will throw up. Here's an example:
Just watched the LeBron train wreck. Just thought what Kobe is doing right now. Bet you he is in the gym right now. That's why LeBron will never win a title. LeBron does crap like this and Kobe gets better.
Really? You'd think after Kobe generally stunk it up in the Finals and has his bacon saved by Gasol and Artest that Black Mamba fans would be a little more discreet. But if you'd like me to keep bringing up Bryant's terrible performances in NBA Finals games, I will, while addressing point number four.

The Lakers in 2004 were a pretty amazing team on paper. Gary Payton, Kobe, Karl Malone, Shaq... these guys were supposed to steamroll the Pistons in the NBA Finals. Instead, they lost, four games to one. And apparently this is incontrovertible proof that teams with more than two superstars cannot win it all.

Not exactly.

For one, Gary Payton scored 4 points per game on 32% shooting.

For two, Karl Malone was greatly hampered by a knee injury, and scored only 5 points per game on 33% shooting.

And finally, The Black Mamba himself scored 22 points per game on 38% shooting, including 17% shooting from downtown.

Thankfully, Shaq showed up, recording 27 points and 11 rebounds a game on 63% shooting, or the series would have been a sweep.

In short, the 2004 Laker Team of All-Stars really only had one guy playing at an elite level. Are you telling me LeBron, Wade and Bosh will fail that spectacularly? It's possible, but I don't see it happening outside of freak injuries.

The last point I feel compelled to address is the argument that LeBron choked in the playoffs and needs to ride Wade's abilities to win a championship.

That is utterly ridiculous. Look at Game 5 of the Cavs' series against Boston this year. This is a game Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert specifically mentioned as one that LeBron quit in. James' line for that game: 15 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds on 3-of-14 shooting. Sure, that's one heck of a bad shooting night, but he was still rebounding and passing well. How great are you when this stat line is what you end up with when you aren't even trying?

In Game 6 of that series, when all hope for Cleveland was essentially gone, LeBron poured in 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists. He gave everything he had to the franchise, and it's not his fault Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams and the rest were casting up brick after brick and failing to contribute in other ways. The supporting cast was just not good enough.

Now, Wade is an elite player, there's no arguing with that. But since Shaq got old and mostly ineffective, how many rings does he have? He needs LeBron as much as LeBron needs him. Could they each win titles with lesser teammates? Absolutely. But if they're friends, why not play together? Their styles complement each other well enough, and I think they'll succeed in Miami.

It all hinges on the fact that neither of them have issues sharing the ball. The Shaq/Kobe teams had problems because neither one of those guys liked making assists (yet notice how they won three championships together anyway). With Wade and LeBron each constantly looking out for wide-open teammates, I believe this team will be very, very fun to watch. Just imagine a two-on-one fastbreak where Wade and James are flying down the court.

And on ESPN last night Michael Wilbon (I think) commented that we've seen these two play together before... in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Wade was finding LeBron under the hoop for an alley-oop dunk, LeBron was driving and kicking to wide-open Wade on the perimeter. It can work, especially when you've got a talented low-post guy ready to make teams pay for overplaying either one of these guys.

The Heat just need to find players who are willing to play in a system where all they're asked to do is make wide-open jumpers and they have an excellent chance to win a ring. Rumor has it they'll be signing Mike Miller, which is a good choice, considering he shot 50% from the field and 48% from deep last season. Another good addition could be Kyle Korver or maybe a Roger Mason.

It'll be interesting to watch, that's for sure. I'll definitely rooting for them to win, but that's mainly due to my irrational Laker hatred.

Feel free to argue any of the points I've made... I recognize I am definitely in the minority on this thing, and I'm open to having my mind changed.

08 July 2010


Tonight's the night.

Talking heads and typing fingers have been obsessing over where LeBron James will play for the 2010-2011 season for years now.

And thanks to the wonders of ESPN and King James' ego, we get an hour-long special dedicated to watching him make his final decision, much like some high school athletes do when committing to a college.

Will there be hats involved? I kinda want to see hats. The entire hour can be spent watching LeBron move as if to put on a Chicago Bulls hat, only to put it back down and reach for the Cleveland Cavaliers hat, then pick up the Miami Heat hat, over and over. It'd be riveting.

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons has given his take on the situation, and he essentially believes LeBron will end up in Miami with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.

Here's my breakdown of where he may end up and what the end result would likely be:

1. New York Knicks: The franchise is cursed with bad management. Sure, they already got Amar'e Stoudamire to sign with the Knicks, but Stat doesn't play great defense and I don't trust him in the playoffs. If LeBron goes here, he fails to win a championship anytime soon.

2. Miami: Assuming he signs with Bosh and Wade, this team wins, and wins fast. I don't care that the Heat would have little to no money to sign any great role players; the Lakers won it all with Derek Fisher and Sasha Vujacic as their role players a month ago, for heaven's sakes. I imagine a few veterans would be interested in joining this team for peanuts because it screams "RING!" I also don't buy the argument that LeBron and Wade each need the ball in their hands to be happy; both guys average around 7 assists per game. And are you telling me LeBron wouldn't love being able to move without the ball and catch passes in great positions to score? He's been playing "LeBron vs. Everyone" ball for years now and I can imagine he's tired of it. Which brings me to

3. Cleveland: No way, Jose. If I'm LeBron, I ditch this franchise. They have had seven years to give him a decent supporting cast, and the best they could do was sign Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison. That is just sad. The only All-Star LeBron has ever played with is the aforementioned Mo, and we all know that selection was a joke. Also, if I am a Cleveland fan, I completely understand if he ends up leaving. I would blame the Cavs management long before I got angry with LeBron. Similar to how I will be much more angry with the Jazz management than with Deron Williams when he ends up signing with the Lakers in a couple years.

4. Chicago: This one makes a lot of sense, especially considering Boozer is heading there (good riddance). A starting lineup of Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, LeBron, Boozer and Joakim Noah is pretty darn attractive. Sure, that frontcourt is undersized, but Noah's defensive ability and intensity might be enough to offset Boozer's complete lack of interest on that side of the floor. And they would score. This isn't as much of a slam dunk as Miami would be, but I like this team to win a championship in the next three years.

Personally, here are the two things I'd like to see as a result of this offseason:

1. LeBron needs to end up with at least one legit All-Star as a teammate. I get sick of people ragging on him for not winning, as if anyone else in league history was winning rings with complete scrubs as teammates. Pau Gasol and Ron Artest saved Kobe's bacon in Game 7 of the Finals last month, and every other great to play the game has similar experiences with their lesser, yet very talented, teammates.

2. A team needs to be assembled that can challenge the Lakers. I hate L.A. with a fiery passion these days, and if this all shakes out to where no one team has the talent needed to beat the purple and gold, I will be very upset.

My prediction? I think LeBron goes to Miami. All the talk about how his ego couldn't handle it.... meh. If he wants a ring, he makes that move. No one says Magic was no good because he played next to Kareem and Worthy. No one discounts Larry Bird because he had Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish. And no one says Wade is a subpar player because he won his ring with Shaq.

Get it done, LeBron. Silence your haters and and crush Kobe's hopes of getting a sixth ring forever, and you and I will both be happy.

02 July 2010

Old-timey video game nostalgia

Today I give you Terminal Velocity. Released in 1995, it was one of the first games my family got for our 486 computer.

Great memories. The soundtrack was awesome, and while the 3D graphics look really pixelated now, 15 years ago they were very impressive. And what 13-year-old boy doesn't like flying around in a futuristic plane blowing stuff up?

The gameplay was a lot easier than other flight sims that were available at the time. As you can infer, there are no controls other than left/right/up/down, shoot, switch weapon and afterburner. You also didn't need to worry about inertia or falling if your speed got too low.

In addition, it seemed a shield restore would pop up just when you needed it. I don't remember dying a whole lot in this game.

Definitely a great one. Nice work, Terminal Reality and 3D Realms.