Friday, December 29, 2006

Classic card of the week

Kevin Porter, 1991 Pro Line Portraits Series

What’s that you say, Kevin Porter? Would I like to see what’s behind that football? Ummm, no thanks. I’m cool. Really though. Actually, as a matter of fact, I brought my own football, so…yeah, don’t worry about it. Come again, Mr. Porter? Would I like to guess what’s behind that football? Uhhh, okay. Is it…another football? Kind of? Okaaay. Is it…a Herman Melville novel? Yeah, he wrote the book about the whale. I’m getting closer? Okay. Wait – I don’t really want to get any closer, now that I think about it. I give up, Kevin Porter. What’s behind the football? What the - a Chia Pet? For me? Why thank you, Kevin Porter! You didn’t have to go through all that trouble! And I didn’t even get you anything…I feel terrible. Wait, do you have any skin-tight spandex shorts, because I just saw a pair at Dick’s Sporting Goods…maybe I could buy them for you? Oh, you do have a pair of skin-tight spandex shorts? Several pairs? Oh my gosh - you’re wearing a pair right now. How did I not notice that? I think your Chia Pet was in the way. My bad. Do you have…a sleeveless turtleneck? You do? Crap! I know, I know – the sleeveless turtleneck is perfect for a late September afternoon. Oh well. But what the heck can I get you in return? Let’s check the back of your card: “…The only thing competition will do is make you a better person and player.” That’s it! I’ll get you some competition! What size are you…extra tight? Okay, I’m going to the store right now. When I get back, you are going to have the best competition money can buy! Wait, how much is competition? Can I borrow some money, Kevin Porter? What’s that? It’s in your back pocket? You want me to get it? No way those things have pockets. I am becoming suspect of your mysterious ways, Kevin Porter. You can keep what’s behind that football – I’m going home.

Did you know?
Kevin Porter wore this same exact outfit on his wedding day, except with a bowtie.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Classic card of the we-…YEAR!

It’s about time that I let you in on a little secret. Dwayne Schintzius is the inspiration behind this whole, darned operation. The very idea of “Classic Card of the Week” was modeled around the notion that someday – when I felt I was adequately ready to do so – breaking down these very cards. But unforeseen challenges lie ahead. For starters, our Dwayne Schintzius collection was always lying around the office somewhere, never more than a few footsteps away, nestled next to some coffee-stained newspapers and two-month old cream cheese. But, when I finally felt confident enough to take on the magnificence you see above (I have been training for months now, eating raw eggs and typing with my knuckles)…BAM!…they were gone. Suddenly and unjustly, like the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, Dwayne Schintzius was nowhere to be found.

What was a man to do? I searched high and low, with no results. Through utter carelessness, I had managed to lose the Holy Grail of ridiculous sports cards. I didn’t know if I could go on. I arrived at work one day last week with full intentions of calling it quits. I couldn’t focus anymore, not without Schintzius. But then, a beacon of light appeared through my office door, and lying on top of my keyboard were the two Dwayne Schintzius cards, in all of their glory! It was a Festivus miracle! I screamed, “I’ll never lose you again, Dwayne Schintzius!” and we celebrated with cocktails and finger foods. Now I don’t know who, exactly, found Schintzius and brought him back into my life – no one at the office claims responsibility. But I’ll tell you this much: I’m a believer. In Santa Claus. That guy gets it.

Of course, just finding Dwayne Schintzius was only half the battle. Now that I had him, what was I going to say? What could I possibly say about a card where everything is already implied? I figured that the only person in the world who could even look at this card without being immediately flabbergasted by it was Dwayne Schintzius himself. And that’s when it came to me…

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Dwayne Schintzius had never seen himself before. In his native land of Russia, where the average height is only 4’7”, the 7’2” Schintzius could never make eye contact with a mirror. And that’s if he was lucky enough to even be in the same room with a mirror, because mirrors were very expensive in Russia, and were actually deemed illegal under the Communist regime of Mikael Gorbachev, who himself was never made aware that he had a humongous glob on his forehead. Because they were government-owned, barbershops did not have mirrors, and for 20 long years, Dwayne Schintzius had been telling his barber, LeRoy, to “take a little off the sides, not so much in the back” without ever seeing the results.

Fast forward to the lay-up line of a late December matchup pitting the Spurs against the Mavericks. Schintzius had just completed a warm-up series of baby-hook shots that would inevitably be stuffed back down his throat during the actual game. He was casually returning to the San Antonio bench, as was his custom, when off in the distance, somewhere in the stands, a large mirror was being transported across the arena to replace the one that was broken in the luxury suite men’s bathroom, an accident that occurred when an irate Spurs executive realized that Dwayne Schintzius was on the Spurs. Not knowing what a mirror actually was, Schintzius quietly marveled at the humongous, mulleted phenom staring back at him. Then, growing increasingly upset, words were exchanged. Witnesses heard Schintzius have the following dialogue with the unsuspecting mirror:

“Yo, what’s your problem buddy? With your crazy mullet. Why you wearin’ my shirt? Why you…Wait a sec…(Tapping top of his head)…Holy shhh…”

The Upper Deck cameras, in what would later become Time Life’s Pulitzer Prize winning “Photo of the Year (1990),” captured the exact moment when 20-plus years of image-avoidance caught up with Dwayne Schintzius in one fell swoop.

By his own admission, Dwayne Schintzius was shocked by what he saw. In an awkward post-game locker room moment, Schintzius chastised various beat reporters for allowing him to leave the house in such a state, much less conduct public interviews. Probably most shocking of all to Schintzius was the realization that he was Caucasian. He blamed his parents for naming him “Dwayne,” which greatly added to his own, personal, misperceptions. Ironically, “Schintzius” is Russian for “Wade.”

Dwayne Schintzius’ locker room tirade, combined with the cost of one very expensive bathroom mirror, led to his demise as a San Antonio Spur. In the first ever trade that involved one unbelievably mulleted doofus for one robust guy who played basketball while wearing Blue Blockers, Dwayne Schintzius was traded to the Sacramento Kings for Antoine Carr in December of 1991. Advantage: Kings. Nobody in Sacramento had even seen defense like this before:

The story of Dwayne Schintzius is one of redemption. Instead of crawling into a humongous hole and hiding for several days, only to emerge with a shaved head and a pair of Nikes, Schintzius came to accept who he was. He said, “Hey, world! I’m Dwayne Schintzius. I am a seven-foot tall Russian who is actually from Florida, and I have the worst mullet in the history of the universe. Deal with it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to lace up my size 27 Converse and play some suffocating defense for the Sacramento Kings. That’s how I roll – Schintzius style.” In fact, Schintzius actually did what many thought was impossible, and ditched his coifed Aqua-Net part for a more apropos flattop. The results were, obviously, fantabulous.

Actual facts about Dwayne Schintzius (according to Wikipedia)
- He played the role of the “Russian player” in the 1996 Whoopi Goldberg movie “Eddie.”
- He accused former New Jersey Nets’ teammate Jayson Williams of killing his dog with a shotgun.
- His middle name is Kenneth.
- These facts are all true. Seriously. I’m not kidding.

Interesting anecdotes about Dwayne Schintzius (according to nothing in particular)

- He is the equivalent of Fabio in Russia, where his image often graces the cover of trashy, Russian romance novels, such as “From Russia, With Lust.”
- Former Seattle Supersonics forward Detlef Schrempf claimed that Schintzius was “an inspiration to mullet-wearers everywhere,” and often marveled at the sheer volume of his peer’s extraordinary mane.
- Antoine Carr said, “Trying to replace Schintzius in San Antonio was like trying to squeeze a cantaloupe into a rooster’s behind.”

Did you know?
“Rolling Schintzius style” is now hip-hop terminology for trying to orchestrate a four-on-five fast break because the humongous, mulleted center on your team can’t make it back down the court quickly enough.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
David Segui, 1994 Topps

David Segui is gonna bunt the shit out of that ball, so you might want to take a step back. David Segui once bunted a ball into the dead center field “black” at Yankee Stadium. David Segui will yell at an oncoming fastball and tell it where to go, even when he is bunting. He will say, “Go halfway down the third base line you stupid ball – Glaus is playing too deep – or I will KILL YOU! I will rip the seams out of your precious little round body, and then EAT YOUR REMIANS! ARRRGHHHH!” David Segui blatantly ignores the conventional wisdom with regards to how to hold the bat when you are bunting. He really doesn’t care. David Segui’s rationale is, “So what if a 94 mph fastball hits me right in the knuckles as I’m squaring up? My hands are made of straight steel, homie. Raffy gave me about 17 HGH shots right in ol’ caboose during BP – this ball could hit me straight in the temple and I will walk to first base as if I were just hit with a raindrop. I am an indestructible bunting machine. I hope this ball ricochets right into my mouth. Seriously. That’s what I am hoping. I will stop it with my teeth and then spit it down the third base line. Then when I get to first base I am going to punch the first baseman in the face for no particular reason. Who’s playing first today? Tim Salmon? That guy’s a bitch. I will eat Tim Salmon for breakfast, and then someone will have to call his family to inform them that daddy won’t be coming home, because David Segui ate him. I am so pumped up right now. I would really like to see this ball mess with me right now. I swear – if I foul this ball straight back, I am going to do some serious damage. I will run headfirst into the center field wall and knock down this entire stadium if this stupid ball doesn’t heed to my commands. Why am I even bunting in this situation? I should be swinging for the freakin’ fences! I’m on like, eight different horse tranquilizers right now, and coach is telling me to bunt? I am going to bunt this ball over the warehouse. Then when I get back to the dugout, I am going to say something very witty, like, ‘Told you I’d move the runners over, Skip.’ I am so freakin’ hilarious, I could just kill someone…”

Did you know?
David Segui once challenged a traffic light to a fight.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spreading good cheer, and demanding socks in return

The Christmas season is all about a little give-and-take. “An eye for an eye,” as George Costanza would say. That’s what holiday spirit is all about. In that respect, and in honor of the holiday season, we’re going to do a little not-so-secret Santa thing. The higher ups here in the blogosphere have given me a modest budget to buy gifts for some of our favorite athletes and coaches here at “So, do you like...stuff?” But, in return, they have to get me something that I want, which is the most important part of this little deal. So, after a few phone calls, emails, and blackmailed photos of a compromised Drew Rosenhaus, we managed to set this whole thing up. (By the way, it’s more interesting if you picture all of us wearing Santa hats, sitting around a tree and sipping on some Grey Goose punch, which is exactly how this all went down.)

Chris Henry
His list: One “get out of jail free” card. No, wait…make that two.
Says I: I think I could manage a PBA card for ya’, Chris. But it doesn’t usually work if you’re throwing up on the cop’s shoes as you hand it to him. Just a word of advice.
My wish list from Chris: Your keys. And Odell’s.

Edgerrin James
His list: A time machine that goes back to March of 2005, at which point I can re-sign with the Colts.
Says I: Oooh, geez Edge, I mean, time machines are kind of costly these days. Maybe you could build one with the millions you got from the Cardinals. How ‘bout I get you an offensive line instead? Good? Good.
My wish list from Edge: My fantasy football season back. Save a spot for me in that time machine.

Manny Ramirez
His list: A one-way ticket out of Boston
Says I: Are you serious? Are you pulling my chain? You better not be pulling my chain, or else I’m gonna be pissed. Every year you ask for this, only to change your list on Christmas Eve to something like, the latest edition of “Scarface” on DVD. You’d better not be messing around…
My wish list from Manny: Your one-way ticket out of Boston.

Eli Manning
His list: A new last name.
Says I: No problem! How about, “Eli Testaverde?” No, wait! “Eli Leaf!” Sounds Scandinavian, yes?
My wish list from Eli: Grow a pair of you-know-whats, slap around Burress and Shockey for a good hour and a half, let ‘em know who’s boss, and then go out there and try and complete a freakin’ pass without looking as if your puppy just got run over before the coin toss.

His list: To finally be accepted as a New York Yankee.
Says I: Ughh, A-Rod. Another one of your strangely intangible lists again. Remember back in 2001, when you asked for “peace of mind?” What the hell? You want to be accepted as a Yankee? Try asking for .330/51/142, with a .999 fielding percentage, and a playoff appearance that doesn’t have you looking like a $252 million deer in headlights. And why don’t you stop talking for a while, champ.
My wish list from A-Rod: Socks. I don’t trust you to come through with anything big.

Isiah Thomas
His list: A clue.
Says I: What, you don’t want another shoot-first point guard? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…sigh.
My wish list from Isiah: Besides like, you leaving? How about a home win? Or, better yet, a home game that simply doesn’t end in World War III? Is that too much to ask?

Eddy Curry
His list: Three milkshakes, a super sized No. 3 value meal, a dozen donuts, a regular No. 3 value meal, and a diet Pepsi.
Says I: What’s that, breakfast? You’ll get nothing and like it!
My wish list from Eddy: You don’t need to buy me anything – I know you’re strapped for cash. Wink, wink. Just give me the treadmill that’s gathering dust in your basement. I have a “Spring Lake 5” to train for.

Eric Mangini
His list: I’ll have what Eddy’s having.
Says I: Okay, instead of that, how about an oversized, official NY Jets hooded sweatshirt that will cover up those jello jigglers as you’re roaming the sidelines?
My wish list from Coach Mangini: Call Bill Belichick your bitch. Ya’ know, for fun.

Paul Lo Duca
His list: The over on the Ohio State/Florida game, with $100 action points.
Says I: Uh, do you really need ME for that? Have you ever heard of the Internet, Paul?
My wish list from Paul: Some insider advice on the 2007 Kentucky Derby.

Bode Miller
His list: Another chance, at the 2010 Olympics.
Says I: What the…Bode Miller? How the heck did YOU get in here? Nobody’s heard from you in the past 11 months.
Says Bode: I heard there was gonna be Grey Goose punch.
Says I: Paulie, get this guy outta here, will ya’?

Albert Pujols
His list: My reputation as a good guy back.
Says I: Too late. Your arrogant surliness has rubbed too many people the wrong way. I think you’ve been hanging around LaRussa for too long. But I’ll tell you what – how about some B12? Just kidding! I’m kidding, right? I’ll get you a sweater.
My wish list from Albert: Your birth certificate. Twenty-six my ass.

Andy Pettitte
His list: To be home with my family. Wait, no! Sixteen million dollars.
Says I: Good call. Being home with your family is soooo 2004, am I right? But, you already got your 16 mil. You can’t fool me, Andy Pettitte. I’ll get you a gift certificate for a nice romantic dinner for two at Ruth’s Chris. Just you and Roger.
My wish list from Andy: Put down the ‘roids, get your act together, and try not to blow this.

Tiki Barber
His list: To win the Super Bowl, retire, and then parlay my good looks and intellect into my very own talk show, where I will interview important political people. And also do paternity tests.
Says I: Everything except the Super Bowl is inevitable anyway, so I don’t really have to do anything there. But you should start working on your portfolio, so I’ll get you a dope tie. And some body oil.
My wish list for Tiki: That Super Bowl thing would be real nice, so maybe you could shut up for like two seconds, and stop undermining your coach long enough to make it there. Oh, and winning a game would help, too.

Greg Schiano
His list: An extra 500 g’s annually, and three more scholarships. Then, watch the magic happen.
Says I: Anything for you, Greg! The world is yours! Well, New Jersey is yours, and that’s a start. Who wants Staten Island anyway, am I right?
My wish list for Coach Schiano: A Texas Bowl victory, and more chances to watch great, local college football for years to come. Also, maybe you’d be interested in coaching the basketball team? Hmmm?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Classic card of the week

Dan Saleaumua, 1991 Pro Line, Portraits series

Whoa, whoa! Back off, Dan Saleaumua! I was just kidding! I take it back – that is NOT just an extra-long shirt with shorts on over it. The last thing I need right now is for you to be practicing your martial arts moves on my groin. I’m not even wearing a cup! I don’t even work here! So please, relax. Thank you. So anyways…alright, why are you still looking at me like that? Are you messing with me? Let me check the back of your card…oh! Okay, you ARE messing with me: “To prepare for a game, I watch everybody else psyche themselves up, and it usually makes me laugh. Some guys bang their heads and some just sit there with their eyes closed…Some guys do different things, but I just goof around most of the time.” Dan Saleaumua did not believe in artificial motivation, such as “trash-talk clipboard material,” steroids, or Red Bull. He instead prepared for games with a steady diet of whoopee cushions and “Three Stooges” reruns. It was this free-spiritedness that forced the NFL to hand Saleaumua the coveted title of “Funniest Nose Tackle” for the year 1990. Because he believed that tackling was too violent – and against his religious beliefs (Hawaiian Methodist) – Saleaumua would instead opt to leave the opposing center in stitches. With laughter. Oftentimes an entire opposing offensive line would simply collapse when the ball was snapped, all convulsing with laughter because Dan Saleaumua had just told a hilarious joke involving a monk, three-quarters of scotch, and a homosexual dragon. (Stop him if you’ve heard that one.) This would open up a gaping hole for Saleaumua to reach the quarterback or running back, at which point he would grab them, stick his fingers through their facemask and poke their eyes while saying something funny, like “Wonka, wonka, wonka!” This often led to turnovers. In fact, Saleaumua forced more comedy-related turnovers in 1990 than any Hawaiian Methodist nose tackle in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs. Joe Montana, Saleaumua’s former teammate, tells a great story: “So we’re in the locker room after a brutal loss. 34-10 or something, in San Diego. Marty [Schottenheimer] is killing us…just killing us. Laying into our effort, cursing us out…he’s just irate. So he finishes his rant – there’s still smoke coming out of his ears – and out of the shower walks Dan, wearing nothing but a pink tutu and bunny ears. I’m telling you, coach wanted to kill him, but instead he started laughing so hard that he pooped his pants. Seriously…Dan Saleaumua made Marty Schottenheimer poop himself…and it wasn’t even the playoffs! True story.”

Did you know?
Dan Saleaumua’s favorite movie is “Patch Adams.”

Friday, December 15, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Don Mattingly, 1991 Collectors Series

The similarities between Don Mattingly and Coca-Cola were endless, which serves to explain how a baseball card could, quite easily, confuse the two. For example, both were very red, with sideburns. Both went down extra smooth – Coca-Cola with its crisp, refreshing taste, and Mattingly with an effortless slide into home plate to win the game for the hometown ball club. Both produced much hyped, yet ill-fated experiments – Coca-Cola with “New Coke,” and Mattingly with “Kevin Mass.” Both had bad backs. The only real difference between Coca-Cola and Don Mattingly – if you can even call it a difference – was that Coca-Cola was a soda, and Don Mattingly was a person. But that’s about it. In fact, people confused the two all the time. Mattingly himself tells a great story about how he went to give teammate Roberto Kelly a high-five after a Kelly home run, and instead, Kelly turned Mattingly upside down and tried to drink him, and Mattingly was like, “Whoa, whoa, Roberto! It’s me, Donnie!” Stuff like that happened all the time. Nevertheless, the fact remains that this is one Don Mattingly baseball card extremely unique in its obvious omission of one Don Mattingly. But, as this card proves, you don’t really need to see Don Mattingly to understand him. So stop being such a doubting Thomas! Look, his name is there, you know his number was “23,” because it says so on top, you know the team he played for - the Evansville, Indiana somethings – and you know he was around during the year 1991. I mean, what else do you need to know? Do you need to know that Mattingly sold the space for his image on this card to the Coca-Cola Company for a paltry $43,000, just to earn back the money he lost in one sitting at a Casino in Atlantic City? Really, is that what you need to know? Are you calling him a “sellout?” Do you need to know that a can of Coca-Cola has won exactly as many championships as Donnie Baseball? Yeah, are you satisfied now, jerkface? Why don’t you go drink some Coca-Cola and stop asking me all these questions about Don Mattingly! He was a hero, I tell you! A hero!

Did you know?

Don Mattingly publicly accused his wife of infidelity when, in 1990, his third son – Elijah – came out looking a little too much like Pepsi.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A sitdown with: Jason Kidd

I’ve been receiving a lot of flack around here lately for ignoring the New Jersey Nets. Apparently, there are at least several people in the area who are fans of the Nets, which, I have to admit – I did not know. People are funny like that sometimes, like when they root for the Nets. The major sentiment among Nets’ fans is – they’re the local team, an actual New Jersey team, and they deserve our support. Also, they happen to be one of the better teams in the NBA. Okay. Counterpoint: They’re the Nets. They’ve been a brutal franchise for a quarter century, and now that they’re good, they’re most likely abandoning the Garden State for Brooklyn. Whatever side you may fall on, it is true that I have not paid them their due attention over these past few years, and thus, I’ve failed as a journa-…person. To make up for it, I’ve contacted the Nets’ super-duper guard Jason Kidd for an exclusive interview. He was as surprised as I was to find out about these “Nets fans,” and thus, agreed to sit down.

Me: Hey Jason! Welcome…

Kidd: Thanks for having me.

Me: J-Kidd, can I call you “J-Kidd?” My brain now automatically manufactures nicknames that are nothing other than the first letter of someone’s first name, combined with at least a part of their last name. Since your last name is only one syllable anyway, I literally had to put no thought into that whatsoever, which is perfect for me.

Kidd: Whatever.

Me: J-Kidd, you’ve been known to make everyone around you better. Do you think you can try your best to make me better today? Because I’ve done absolutely no preparation for this interview. I’m a mess, honestly. I left my cell phone at 7-Eleven this morning, and I’m totally hung over. You play for the Nets, right?

Kidd: Yep.

Me: What’s that like?

Kidd: It’s fun, I guess.

Me: Nice. You started your NBA career playing for the Dallas Mavericks, where you formed a rap group called the “J boys,” featuring yourself, Jamal Mashburn, and what’s-his-name Jackson. Do you remember that?

Kidd: It wasn’t a rap group, and it sure as heck wasn’t called the “J boys.” It was something the media had dubbed the three of us – Triple J – and yeah, it was me, Mash, and Jimmy Jackson.

Me: It didn’t really work out for you and the J boys though, did it? You know what they say about too many guys whose name begins with “J” trying to play basketball together…

Kidd: No, I don’t. What?

Me: I don’t know either. That they suck? I thought maybe you would know. Geez, J-Kidd, so far, you are not making this interview better.

Kidd: My bad.

Me: Of course you’re aware of the long-standing rumor that it was singer Toni Braxton that broke up the J boys. Tell me about that.

Kidd: Never heard of her.

Me: Of course not. Janet Jackson seemed to be the obvious choice there. Way to mess that up. Okay, then. After a forgettable stint with the Phoenix Suns, you were traded to the Nets for Stephon Marbury. How did it feel to be traded for the best point guard ever? A big ego boost, I’m sure.

Kidd: For him, maybe.

Me: In your first game as a Net, you shattered Yinka Dare’s career assist record. Was this a harbinger of things to come? And if so, what is a harbinger?

Kidd: I think it’s like, foreshadowing or something. But yeah, I think it was. I mean, we started off so strong back in 2002, that we forced people to take us seriously right out of the gate. From that point on, we were able to keep it going.

Me: The Nets were always like, the worst franchise ever. Even the Arizona Cardinals would be like, “Man, the Nets stink.” But then you come along and – Kazaam! – you’re in the NBA Finals. Do you take all the credit for the recent Nets’ run of success, or just 95 percent of it?

Kidd: I’m just a small part of this whole thing. The success we’ve had recently has been a result of a lot of things – Rod Thorn making some great moves, Richard Jefferson emerging as a star, getting Vince, and great coaching. I’ve only accounted for like, 91 percent of this, honestly.

Me: You are dropping a triple-double of modesty on me right now, J-Kidd. Talk about your coach, Lawrence Frank. What does he do?

Kidd: He coaches us. What do you mean?

Me: Really though, look at him. What could he possibly tell you guys that you don’t already know? I always imagine your practices going something like,” Uhhh, J – yeah, run the ball up the floor, and…throw it to Vince. Vince – dunk it. If Vince isn’t open, give it to RJ. RJ – dunk it. Keep doing that. And Collins – make yourself useful and try and grab a rebound or something, will ya’? I’ll be back in two hours, I have to get my muffler fixed.”

Kidd: No, man. Coach doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the job he does. He keeps us running like a well-oiled machine.

Me: Here’s something I’ve always wanted to ask you. When the Nets drafted Richard Jefferson, did you talk to him on the phone, and were you like, “Okay. We’re getting Tom Gugliotta. I can live with that.” And then you actually saw him, and you were like, “Wait a second…”

Kidd: Honestly? Yeah! I was blown away. I thought we were getting a spot-up shooter, and then I see this guy whizzing around the court as if it were some kind of athletic ballet. After speaking to him on the phone, I wasn’t even thinking about alley-oops. So yeah, it was a great surprise.

Me: Let’s talk about you for a sec here. Before every foul shot, you blow a kiss into the air out of respect for the Notorious B.I.G. How did that start?

Kidd: That kiss is for my son.

Me: Oh, really? Is he a rapper?

Kidd: He’s eight.

Me: Interesting. Speaking of rappers, the owner of the Nets is a rapper, is he not? I keep hearing that he’s retired, but I see him everywhere. He must have a very different view of retirement than I do, which involves me, a couch, and boxes of Polly-O String Cheese.

Kidd: Yes, his name is Jay-Z. He’s a cool guy.

Me: Did you know that I’ve been writing a dope rhyme about the New Jersey Nets over the past few years? It’s not finished yet, though. Wanna hear it?

Kidd: Not really.

Me: The Nets are here / You better stand clear / We’re a well-oiled machine / Yo, watch me set this screen / Nenad Krstic, got his balls to the wall / Don’t (bleep) with Mile Illic, unless you wanna brawl / Marcus Williams, he’s a super shooter / He’ll steal the ball, and then your computer…That’s all I have right now.

Kidd: That’s hot.

Me: J-Kidd, you’ve had some – oh, how should I put this? – domestic issues. Are you hoping that everyone forgets about this by the time you are inducted into the Hall of Fame, kind of like what happened with Warren Moon? If so, sorry I brought it up.

Kidd: No, I don’t expect anyone to forget. I made a mistake and I apologized. That was a long time ago, and we’ve both moved on. It will never happen again.

Me: If I were you, I’d blow a kiss to my wife on that foul line too. Ya’ know, just in case.

Kidd: Just in case what?

Me: I don’t know. Forget I said anything. J-Kidd, when information surfaced that the Nets were most likely moving to Brooklyn, you stated that you had signed to play in New Jersey, not New York. How would it feel to abandon a fan base that can’t sellout a playoff game?

Kidd: Well, first of all, I don’t even know if we’re moving to Brooklyn anymore. Nobody knows anything, because nobody is saying anything. Do you know anything?

Me: Me? Geez, no. I don’t know anything. I could ask around, though. My in-laws are from Brooklyn – they might know something.

Kidd: Thanks, I’d appreciate that.

Me: No problem. J-Kidd, your New Jersey Nets are currently in first place in the Atlantic division, with an 8-12 overall record. Are you guys playing this crappy just to make Isiah think that his team is moderately competitive? Or, has nobody informed Vince Carter that he’s in a contract year? Maybe somebody should tell him, like, as soon as possible.

Kidd: We are working on playing better basketball. And Vince plays hard every game.

Me: By “every game” do you mean almost every game?

Kidd: Yes.

Me: Okay, one last question before we go, ya’ know, for all the Nets’ fans out there. Wink, wink. When are the Nets finally going to win a championship, so we can have that much-anticipated parade through the abandoned parking lots of East Rutherford, New Jersey?

Kidd: This year, man. This is the year we go all the way!

Me: Promise?

Kidd: No.

Me: Okay. Whatever. Can you drive me to 7-Eleven?

Friday, December 08, 2006

Classic card of the week

Cade McNown, 1999 Collector’s Edge

Back in 1999, Cade McNown was a future legend. Now you may be asking yourself, “How does one ascend to ‘future legend’ status?” Good question. First, you have to be at least 200 lbs. (Cade McNown? 211 lbs. Check.) Next, you have to play quarterback, but not well enough to be drafted ahead of Akili Smith, who actually was also a “future legend” in the category of “failed draft picks.” (Smith, drafted 3rd overall, McNown, 12th. Check.) Finally, you must be deemed a “future legend” by the only authority capable of doling out such praise – a football card – and said football card must have utter disregard for the normal criteria that a stereotypical “legend” encompasses (i.e.: good stats, not named “Cade”), nor give two craps about naming someone a legend who has yet to take a snap within the field that they will establish their supposed legendary status within. (Check, check, and triple check!) Through this, it becomes clear that, yes, Cade McNown, in 1999, was a future legend. Unfortunately, nobody told the future about this, and what has transpired has been a huge misunderstanding of “Three’s Company”-esque proportions. On one hand, it is obvious from the card above that Cade McNown is a future legend. Look at him – does he look like somebody who is not about to become a legend? Even the floating menorahs in the background are trying to get out of the way of his rocket, legendary arm. (“Go deep, Chanukah!”) On the other hand, there is this: Cade McNown’s combined QB rating in his two years with the Chicago Bears? 67.7. Not very legendary, 1999! To boot, Cade McNown (though some may argue) wasn’t even legendarily bad, as he never once, like his counterpart Aaron Brooks, threw the ball backwards 30 yards. Whatever. In the case of Cade McNown, 1999 and 2006 will agree to disagree. What is important to remember here is that, while at UCLA, Cade McNown illegally used a handicapped parking pass to park his - I’m going to assume here - Jeep, making him, at the very least, a legendary douche.

Did you know?
This card represents the first half of the analogy, “…then Joe Montana is a bust.”

Worst. Christmas song. Ever.

Anyone that lives near this area of New Jersey is well aware that one local station a year continues the custom of 24-hour-a-day Christmas songs. This season the culprit is 106.7 FM, which began this tradition before Thanksgiving this year, meaning that it’s (looking at my watch) December 8th, and my holiday spirit has already been obliterated. Awesome. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is the Rod Stewart/Dolly Parton rendition of “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” which my wife so cleverly dubbed as the “date-rape Christmas song:” “Hey, what’s in this drink?” It’s SoCo mixed with GHB, Dolly - Rod is using the cold weather as an excuse to, at the very least, see your boobies. Merry Christmas!

But that’s not even the worst of it. I suppose that, when you’re trying to fill hours upon hours of airtime with Christmas songs, you’re bound to come across some bad ones. And one song in particular takes the cake. So, at the risk of sounding like an insensitive jerk that doesn’t understand the “true meaning of Christmas,” I’m throwing this out there: I hate the “Christmas shoes” song.

There. I said it.

As far as I’m concerned, this song is the equivalent of one of those Volkswagen commercials that scare you into safety by showing a ridiculously sudden and realistic car accident. (Hey, thanks Volkswagen! I nearly just soiled myself again, innocently under the impression that I was watching a normal commercial. Great.) The “Christmas shoes” song is so pretentious in its shameless attempt to make us embarrassed by our own Christmas cheer, as it serves to remind us that death is always around the corner. (“As you’re exchanging your presents and drinking eggnog this season, don’t forget that millions of American mothers die shoeless every year.”) Hey, thanks Christmas shoes song! For ruining the holidays again. Seriously, thanks.

Maybe the worst part of this whole deal is that my wife loves this song. Loves it. Honestly, I had never even heard this stupid song until a couple of years ago, while I was driving with said wife. I could not believe the absurdity of what I was hearing, though meanwhile, my wife is singing along to it, while trying in vain to hold back the tears. In fact, if my wife AND mother-in-law are in the car at the same time when this song comes on, forget it. They let out audible gasps throughout the entire song, as if they’re hearing it for the first time, and will frequently turn to each other with sad, puppy dog eyes, saying things like, “He bought him the shoes,” and, “His poor mother.”

Unbelievable. And quite honestly, I’ve had enough. Let’s break the Christmas shoes song down, and never put it back together…

It was almost Christmas time, there I stood in another line
Tryin' to buy that last gift or two, not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing 'round like little boys do
And in his hands he held a pair of shoes

His clothes were worn and old, he was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn't believe what I heard him say

Okay, first of all, why is the boy all dirty? He’s not homeless, is he? No, he’s not. He lives with his parents. And even if his mom is sick, I’m sure his father hasn’t been neglecting to occasionally give him a bath or something. Just a ludicrous attempt to paint this boy as some kind of downtrodden, sympathetic “Tiny Tim” type of character. I’m surprised this song doesn’t have the kid on crutches, coughing up a cloud a smoke like Pigpen or something. Ridiculous.

Sir, I want to buy these shoes for my Mama, please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry, sir, Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes would make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight

Whoa, whoa, whoa. “Daddy says there’s not much time?” Okay, first we got a dad who doesn’t wash his kid. Now we got a dad who scares the crap out of his kid by telling him to rush to the store – by himself, mind you – to buy shoes for his dying mother, telling him there’s not much time. I mean, are shoes really necessary at this particular moment? Maybe little Billy (we’ll call him Billy) should be rushing to the store to get his mom some, oh, I don’t know…medicine. Or – and I know this sounds crazy – maybe Billy’s dying mother would prefer to spend her last moments with Billy, and not waiting for Billy to get back from Payless with a pair of stupid shoes. Plus, we’ve already established that this is a family that doesn’t bathe their children during dire times, so why, all of a sudden, are they so obsessed with appearance?

By the way, the last line is such a shameless tug at the heartstrings. The mere mention of Jesus makes any criticizer of this song (me) come across like a total jerk. But I’ll tell you this much – if Jesus cares what you’re wearing when it’s your time to go, then I never learned anything in Catholic school.

He counted pennies for what seemed like years
Then the cashier said, "Son, there's not enough here"
He searched his pockets frantically
Then he turned and he looked at me
He said Mama made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir, what am I going to do,
Somehow I've got to buy her these Christmas shoes

Hey, cashier – I hope you enjoy that coal in your stocking this year…dick. Of course, the cashier is only playing the “Scrooge” roll in this stupid song. And let’s give another shout-out to the dad here, who not only sent his kid to the store at the worst possible time to purchase the most inexplicable item – he sent him with pennies. Hey dad, not sure how much shoes cost the last time you left the house, but they’re more than 28 cents. I know, inflation’s a bitch, huh? I mean, geez – this kid couldn’t have purchased Stephon Marbury’s shoes with that kind of cash flow. And, then there’s this: ”Mama made Christmas good at our house, though most years she just did without.” Ummm, huh? Did without what? Did without Christmas? But I thought she made Christmas “good,” as Billy so eloquently put it? Did without shoes? I’m confused…

So I laid the money down, I just had to help him out
I'll never forget the look on his face when he said
Mama's gonna look so great

Really though, was there another way for this scenario to end? Saddam Hussein would have bought the freakin’ shoes for the poor kid. By the way, I always imagine the line that never made into the song was the a-hole cashier singing:

Thank you sir, for your purchase, that was very nice
But if this boy has an ailing uncle, the second pair is half-price!

I knew I'd caught a glimpse of heaven's love
As he thanked me and ran out
I knew that God had sent that little boy
To remind me just what Christmas is all about

Sure, sure. It’s AAAALLL about you, buddy. I’m sure God wanted to show you the “true meaning” of Christmas so badly, that he killed off a dirty boy’s mother just to do it. Seriously, I’m sure Billy will always look back on his motherless childhood fondly, knowing that, for at least one holiday season, he was able to share the true meaning of Christmas with you, a random guy who just wasn’t “in the Christmas mood.” I hope you’re proud of yourself – there’s blood on your hands.

In my own extended version of this song, the mother lives - no thanks to the shoes, which gave her bunions - she divorces the good-for-nothing dad, gives Billy a bath, and becomes the first female ambassador of Turkey. Then, one day on Christmas Eve, she gets in a really bad car accident, blindsided by a drunken Dolly Parton trying to escape the Rod Stewart mansion. Billy rushes to the scene holding a pair of Keds, only to be brushed aside by the paramedics.

But fortunately, the mother survives. She was driving a Volkswagen.

You're a dirty, dirty boy...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Classic card of the week

Barry Sanders, 1998 Playoff Co. series

Barry, no! You’re running the wrong way! The “endzone x-press” is that-a-way! It’s easy to forget – because he was so freakin’ awesome – that Barry Sanders was, in fact, a Detroit Lion, and Detroit Lions tend to do stupid things, like disobey a smorgasbord of arrows leading them in the direction of the correct endzone. Only a Detroit Lion would be going the wrong way on a football card with the inscription “momentum” in the top right hand corner. Then again, this could have been one of those scenarios where the Lions’ offensive line immediately collapsed the exact second the ball was snapped, forcing Sanders to run backwards 20 yards, just so he could get some room to go forward again, which was when he was at his best. Or, it could have been a play call by the mastermind himself, the immortal Wayne Fontz, who most likely used the rationale, “Well, nobody seems to defending the endzone behind us…that would seem to be the easier option here.” Amazingly, the Lions have been unable to locate the “endzone x-press” to this very day, even though new mastermind, G.M. Matt Millen, has been searching on mapquest for the past five years. The symbolism contained in this card is also extraordinary, as even the mini-Lion in the lower right hand corner – read, “the entire Lions organization” – is also going the wrong way, and seems poised to get run over by an oncoming tractor trailer at any given moment. And while I would joke that Millen himself is driving the tractor-trailer, which contains a truckload of failed first-round draft picks, that would mean that Millen is following the arrows correctly, which is implausible. He is probably far off in the distance of this card, driving a go-cart in circles, and asking any mini-lion that passes if he knows how to get to the “endzone x-press.”

Did you know?
Even when running uncontested to the incorrect endzone, Barry Sanders would always get caught from behind at the five-yard line.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Book review - "The Best New York Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Fans"

Those of you who follow this site regularly are aware that I have never pressured you into reading anything other than my own material. Call it good business. I have food to put on the table, and leading you in the direction of others who have the capability of exposing my own inadequacies doesn’t make much sense now, does it? Well, whatever. I’ve got a book for ‘ya.

This is a New York-centric blog, which is why I’m taking the time to put you on to a New York-centric book. That, and because this book is – in literary jargon - freakin’ awesome. "The Best New York Sports Arguments: The 100 Most Controversial, Debatable Questions for Die-Hard Fans” hits bookshelves today, Dec. 5. My advice? Get it.

The title speaks for itself. Author Peter Handrinos goes in-depth on all things involving New York sports, and leaves no stone unturned. I’ve read “sports argument” books before – most recently Chris “Mad Dog” Russo’s enjoyable “The Greatest Sports Arguments of All Time” – but there are several aspects of Handrinos’ work that set it apart from the rest.

For starters, it’s all about New York, and it’s contemporary in its appeal. Let’s be honest here – guys my age (mid-to-late 20’s) are getting a little bored of reading books about Sandy Koufax, Joe DiMaggio, and Y.A.Tittle. It’s not that we don’t enjoy and appreciate such works, and the historical perspective they provide, it’s just that, well…we weren’t there. We want to know more about our generation. (Ask anybody my age the name of the best baseball book they’re read in the past few years, and 90 percent will tell you Buster Olney’s “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty.” Why? Because it was about our team.) And it’s certainly not like Handrinos ignores history. On the contrary, he explores it, asking such questions as, “Were the ’62 Mets the worst team of all time?” (they had nothing on the 1916 A’s, he argues) and “Did Joe Namath deserve to make the Hall of Fame?” (the public embarrassment HOF maybe, but not the Pro Football one, by Handrinos’ account). What sets “New York Sports Arguments” apart is its inclusion of specific, modern, bar room discussions. “Did Brett Favre lay down for Michael Strahan’s sack record?” I think we all remember where we were for that, am I right? (And yes, he did.) Who was more dominant in their prime – Dwight Gooden or Roger Clemens? (The Rocket couldn’t sniff the Doc’s jockstrap in the mid ‘80s.) The book weaves in and out of the timeline of New York sports – from the Brooklyn Dodgers pennant collapse of 1951, to Isiah & friends’ dismantling of the current Knicks.

Handrinos’ subject matter is New York in content, and his writing style is New York in nature. He pulls no punches. There will be no confusion as to where, exactly, the author stands on a particular topic. There are no cop-outs. You’re not going to find an argument that settles on a conclusion of “toss up,” or “both.” And that’s the fun of it – you are not going to agree with everything he says. That’s why they’re called arguments. There are going to be moments throughout the book where you’re thanking the Good Lord that somebody had the cojones to blast the New York Giants for covering up Lawrence Taylor’s drug abuse. Which is funny, because a half an hour ago you wanted to throw the book out the window after he had the audacity to argue that the sport of golf will never make it big in New York (a sentiment I’m sure the legendary gallery at Bethpage Black for the 2002 U.S. Open would also take issue with). At least, those were my experiences. To each his own, I suppose.

Obviously, Handrinos’ arguments are backed up by facts. Fascinating facts. Facts that often defy popular opinion. For example, his most scathing chapter is that in which he – bear with me now – argues that Alex Rodriguez is a better player, leader, and clutch hitter than…Derek Jeter. I know, I know. Blasphemy, right? Well…just read it. The only fault in this particular argument is that it was penned before the 2006 season, when Jeter finished second in the AL MVP voting, and A-Rod became an official NY punch line. Nevertheless, it still holds weight with regards to their overall careers. Believe me – if you’re not 100 percent convinced after reading this chapter, your mind will be sufficiently blown.

And speaking of shocking, remember all of the hoopla surrounding the passing of Giants’ owner Wellington Mara last year? Well, see what Handrinos has to say about the former Giants’ patriarch. I’m telling you – this guy is fearless.

In fact, so many misconceptions involving New York sports are exposed throughout the book, from the perceived dominance of a young Brooklyn-born Mike Tyson, to Keyshawn Johnson’s supposed laughable criticisms of Wayne Chrebet. It’s an intriguing read – Handrinos will have you thinking twice about subjects you have taken for granted as common knowledge throughout your entire existence as a New York sports fan.

The author’s knowledge with regards to his subject matter is paramount, obviously, but what really comes across in the book is the passion with which Handrinos writes. Turn on ESPN at any given point in the day, and you can find guys arguing about sports, mostly for show, mostly for the sake of arguing, often without the necessary facts to back anything up. (Hey, Jay Mariotti thinks Jessica Simpson may cause Tony Romo to lose his focus!…ugh.) “The Best New York Sports Arguments” strikes a chord because Handrinos is so passionately committed to what he is saying. You get the impression that the author would sooner ride the subway naked than back down from his stance on any one of the subjects he introduces. The passion with which Handrinos writes is equaled only by the passion with which we as New York sports fans root, which is why you’ll find it so difficult to put the book down, especially after turning the page to take a peak at the topic of his next dissertation.

I’d be hard-pressed to find a sports fan in this area that wouldn’t benefit from something in this book, because everything is covered. And I mean everything, from the status of hockey as a “major sport,” to the inherent awesomeness of “Mike & the Mad Dog.” It’s an intelligently written, often funny, no holds barred exploration into the unique world of New York sports. You may not agree with everything he says, but Handrinos comes so well prepared that organizing your counterargument will pose the same uphill battle as fixing the Knicks.

Interested? You can buy the book here.

Author Peter Handrinos has a lot of, ummm...facts.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Roger Craig, 1986 Topps

Roger Craig was in such amazing shape during his NFL career that he could actually outrun photosynthesis. There simply wasn’t enough oxygen in the atmosphere to replace what Roger Craig would use during the most mundane of tasks, like doing laundry. Throughout his entire life, Roger Craig had conditioned himself – through a regimented series of Tae Bow moves and egg whites – to the point where he developed the closest thing to an iron lung since that of the present day Method Man. During his tenure with the 49ers, practice sessions often proved disastrous, with various teammates collapsing to the ground because Craig was unwittingly breathing in everyone else’s air. This, of course, led to the famous quote, “Roger Craig done stole’d up all my oxygen!” which was a line originally attributed to Red Foxx, until it was later discovered that Jerry Rice said it while doing a Red Foxx impression before passing out. Of course, Craig’s insatiable appetite for air would ultimately culminate in a series of oxygen tanks on the San Francisco sidelines, which were each labeled categorically, including “musty air,” “night club air,” “Staten Island air,” and “fruit punch.” Craig’s favorite was “night club air,” because it meant he was about to get some “chew-wow, wow,” which was a more enlightened term for “sexytime.” Obviously, teammates became very accustomed to watching Craig suck in manufactured air on the sidelines, and knew better than to come close to him, lest they wanted a swift kick in the nuts. But Roger Craig’s affinity for excess oxygen was treated with much less acceptance in other situations, like on commercial flights to Portland. He could not release the oxygen mask above him without accidentally releasing everyone else’s, thus sending the entire flight into a panicked frenzy. Roger Craig would often have to calm down a plane full of hysterical people by explaining to them that the plane wasn’t going down – he just needed extra oxygen because he was in super-duper physical shape. If that didn’t work, he would tell them that he knew Joe Montana, and everything was gonna be fine. Then, he would berate the stewardess because his air smelled like ass. “I swear,” Craig would later say, “airplane air is the worst. Do you know they charge for that now?”

Did you know?
Roger Craig was once kicked out of a Lawrence Taylor party for “breathing up all the goodies.”

Monday, November 27, 2006

Classic card of the week

Some dude, 1980-81 Topps

Hey, here is an awesome hockey card featuring a guy. This guy plays for the Canucks. This guy also plays left wing, and wears a dashiki on the ice. This guy also got his ass kicked at some point in the past few days. Can you guess who this guy is? No? Me neither! Isn’t that friggin' sweet! This card is the manifestation of, quite possibly, the most ingenious idea in sports card history (not including, of course, this): the scratch n’ sniff hockey card! Yes, if you scratch the black hockey puck on the lower right-hand side of the card with a nearby penny, or even a dulled machete, it will reveal the name of the player on the front. Then, if you so choose, you can sniff that area, which will release the very same aroma that this guy’s hockey equipment does after an overtime game. So, why haven’t I scratched off this area yet to reveal this guy’s name? Well, don’t be such an idiot! This guy could be Wayne Gretzky for all I know! I’m not going to ruin my new Wayne Gretzky card by ripping it up with a dulled machete – I have a retirement to plan for! Of course, this was the main problem with the scratch n’ sniff idea – nobody scratched. You see, recent surveys have suggested that mostly hockey fans collect hockey cards, and hockey fans are freakin’ nuts. They know everything about hockey. And there is no grey area when it comes to hockey; either you know your shizz, or you think this guy might be Wayne Gretzky. For example, if I showed my brother-in-law this card, he’d look at it for like, two seconds, and then say something like, “Yeah, that’s Olf Lemieux. He helped Chezeslovakia win a bronze medal in 1976.” I could probably get a whole bunch of these cards, and show them to him like flash cards, and he’d guess each and every one. Blindfolded. So, why would someone like him bother scratching a card to reveal a name he already knew, thus ruining the card? Exactly. And the greatest part is, the name isn’t revealed on the back of the card either. There are only clues. Here’s the clue for this card: “His strong points are his tough checking and good positional play.” Well, I mean, geez – could you make it more obvious? I may not know a lot about hockey, but I darn well know that no one checked tougher and consistently stayed in the alignment required by their respective position than Patrick Roy. I wonder what he smells like…

Did you know?
“Canucks” is Canadian for “schnozzberries.”

Friday, November 17, 2006

Classic card of the week

Todd Hammel, 1991 World League Pro Set

Todd Hammel had just thrown his fifth interception of the first quarter when he walked back to the sidelines, looking straight ahead at NY/NJ Knights’ head coach Brett Massingil. The coach looked back at his quarterback, and, after an inquisitive squint, called him over. Still staring at his QB, Massingil said to him, “Todd, look at me. No, up here…look at me. Can you…can you see?” Massingil had noticed that, because of Hammel’s unprecedented high-top mullet, his helmet sat oddly on top of his head, placing the top bar of his facemask directly in the line of his vision. After additional coaxing from the offensive coordinator, Hammel finally admitted that, no, he could not see anything out there. In fact, the previous week, the Knights were involved in a tight 0-0 game with the rival PA/OH Barnstormers, when, in an attempt to calm his team in the huddle before a crucial third down in the fourth quarter, Hammel turned to his teammates and said, “Hey, is that John Candy over there in the stands?” After looking over his shoulder, a confused offensive lineman named Todd Blunthead turned to Hammel and said, “That’s Emmanuel Lewis.” It was at that point when the entire team panicked, and when Hammel dropped back to pass, he mistakenly threw the ball through the uprights, thinking he had given the Knights a 3-0 lead. Instead, the Knights were penalized 50 yards for “extreme incompetence,” thus putting the Barnstormers in field-goal position, and ending the game. Hammel would later admit that he was scared to mention his complete lack of vision because he assumed that someone in the front office would make him cut his mullet. It was, after all, around the same time that Yankees’ owner George Steinbrenner had forced Don Mattingly to shave his sideburns. Ironically, sideburns were the least of Todd Hammel’s problems:

Regardless, a compromise was in order. Instead of Hammel cutting his mullet or the Knights absorbing the cost of a specially ordered helmet, the World League decided, upon further review, that Hammel’s mullet could actually act as a helmet, thus clearing his line of vision. The following game, with eyes that could see for miles, Hammel threw seven interceptions, but that was mostly because he threw the ball two-handed.

Did you know?
Italian Americans within the metropolitan area found the symbol of the NY/NJ Knights – a horse head – implicit and offensive.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Kevin McHale, 1991-92 Upper Deck

Kevin McHale puts his socks on just like you or I – one foot at a time. Except much, much dorkier. And with a dumb smile on his face, as if to say, “I’m a big goon with huge white tube socks that have the NBA logo on them! Women want to sex me up! Can you believe it? My arms are long enough to reach my gargantuan legs! Look!” See, I never make that face when I put my socks on. My face is more like, “Man, I look like a dumbass with my socks pulled up this high. Thank God I’m about to put some pants on.” And let me tell you something – back in 1992, high socks were not cool. I remember those days fondly, and in my hood, if somebody saw your socks on the basketball court, you would be run out of town. For reals, yo. Unless you had on black crew socks, which was okay, because the Fab Five wore black socks, and those guys did not put their socks on like you or I. They put their socks on two feet at a time, while drinking mimosas on top of a pile of groupies before they went to practice, where they didn’t do shit because they didn’t have to. And who was going to tell them different? Steve Fischer? Please. Kevin McHale would have been doing suicides at a Steve Fischer-run practice, looking like an idiot with his high white tube socks, while Jalen Rose sat in the bleachers with the rest of the team laughing his ass off and pointing at McHale’s socks. And you know who would have gotten the starting nod for the next day’s game at Northwestern? Jalen Rose, that’s who! That’s what high white tube socks got you back in 1992 – diddly-poo, and a seat on the bench. Or, in this particular case, a spot on the All-Star team. Whatever. Back in those days, all-stars were chosen based strictly on talent and body hair – not fashion sensibilities. It wasn’t until about five years later when high white socks became popular, thanks in large part to the Mormon ways of Keith Van Horn, who was not allowed to show his shins lest he wanted to spend eternity shaving black goats in the dark abyss of Babylon. Then, people saw Keith Van Horn play basketball, and high white socks fell by the wayside. Enter headbands. And the “Latin explosion” of the late 90’s, which did not directly affect the NBA in any way, but nevertheless warrants mentioning.

Did you know?
Kevin McHale, now an executive with the Minnesota Timberwolves, banned the playing of any Red Hot Chili Peppers songs at the arena, because he strongly believes that “socks do not belong on people’s wee-wees.”

Monday, November 13, 2006

Classic card of the week

Doug West, 1991-92 Upper Deck

Doug West has many All-Star skills. He has bow-hunting skills. Num-chuck skills. Slam dunking skills. Just to name a few. Most popular of his all his skills are, obviously, his slam dunking skills, which earned him a spot in the Slam Dunk Contest at the 1992 NBA All-Star Game. It was during this particular Slam Dunk Contest where mini sharks were placed underneath the basket, requiring the contestants to actually jump over them, which signified what was happening to the Slam Dunk Contest at the time. (Bu, dum, ching!) Gone were Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkens, and Larry Nance – who could dunk two basketballs at once without even dying. Enter the likes of Doug West (como se llama?) and Nick Anderson, another renowned fierce dunking machine. It is hard to imagine that the dunk pictured on this here card was actually converted by Mr. West – it doesn’t appear as though he has a lot of time or leverage left to get that ball in the friggin’ hoop with any kind of authority. Then again, Doug West was a master illusionist. He once convinced a referee he was wearing No. 8, and not his actual No. 5, thus avoiding a crucial 4th foul. West however, did not fair very well in the contest, regardless of the positive spin on the back of the card: “West narrowly missed the semifinal round.” Hey, congratulations Doug West! You almost made it to the final four of a competition featuring only eight players, who all suck! You are the fifth non-suckiest! At dunking! Of course, the winner of this particular competition was Cedric Ceballos, who had made a name for himself even before the competition. Literally. He made a sign with poster board, magic markers and sparkles that read, “Go, Cedric Ceballos!” so that it appeared at least one person in the stands was aware of who he was. Ceballos won the contest through a loophole that stated, “People are idiots.” Basically, he ran from half court while blindfolded and converted a dunk, which is absolutely, positively, the most impossible thing, ever. Even Jesus would have had trouble with that one. If that blindfold wasn’t see-thru, Ceballos would have jumped into the first row of the stands and dunked it into somebody’s groin. Besides, what is the point of vision-impaired dunking? What are you trying to prove – that you can play adequate basketball without the normally required eyesight? Bulls*%$, Cedric Ceballos. I am calling your bluff. I have seen you play with your eyes open, and quite frankly, it’s not pretty:

Would you like some turkey with that stuffing? Doug West wuz robbed. He’ll always be fourth place in my heart. Always.

Did you know?
If you are short, white, or temporarily blinded, you’re chances of winning the Slam Contest increase by 65 percent.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
Ron Harper, 1992-93 Fleer

In the early 1990’s, because of lacking attendance, the Los Angeles Clippers would run an annual promotion where you only had to pay half price for admission if you did not have a face. The idea was to have an actual NBA contest resemble a game of “Double-Dribble,” a popular Nintendo video game at the time. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Why would you want to go to an NBA game if you did not have any eyes? Or a mouth to eat nachos?” Good question. Counterpoint: Why would you do anything if you did not have a face? Besides, it is obvious from this card that Ron Harper’s game was so sweet, that it transcended the five senses – check the mulleted faceless man in the stands, adequately pumped-up as a result of Harper’s throw-down. As for Harper himself, the back of the card explains that he was “often compared to Michael Jordan because of his acrobatic slams.” I remember, as a kid, having hour-long arguments with my friends, trying to decide who was a more acrobatic slammer – Ron Harper or Michael Jordan. I always said Jordan. I don’t know why, really. I guess I just preferred his particular brand of acrobatics. But my friend Alex would always be like, “No way, man! Ron Harper is a more acrobatic slammer…Who is Ron Harper?” Alex didn’t have a face though. Maybe I should have mentioned that earlier. Besides, comparing Ron Harper to Michael Jordan is like comparing "Double-Dribble" to NBA 2006 - it's too close to call. Anyway, possibly even more enjoyable than the inexplicably blurred-out fans is the high-top fade of Benoit Benjamin, who is glancing over to the bench in hopes of a substitution. He is tired as all hell. He can’t keep running up and down the court like this. Never before has the “00” jersey been doled out so judiciously. Good thing nobody can see him.

Did you know?
At halftime of this game, several banana-shaped mascots* came onto the court and performed a very enjoyable 20-second jingle.

*Did you know? Part II
You will not get “Did you know?” if you never played “Double-Dribble.”**

**Did you know? Part III
If you've never played "Double-Dribble" before, then you are dead to me anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rutgers against Louisville has been a looooong time coming

I don’t normally venture into the realm of college football around these here parts. It’s not that I’m not a fan of the NCAA game – I am – it’s just that, well, I don’t really know what the heck I’m talking about. Now obviously, that’s never stopped me before when it comes to other sports, but at least I know enough about baseball, pro football and basketball to give the allusion that I have a clue (i.e., I know several of the players’ names). But college football is so all-encompassing that I can never seem to catch up. There are a million teams, from thousands of conferences, and all the games are played on Saturdays, when I’m usually partaking in the required husband-related duties that will free me up for a full Sunday of pro football. Not to mention – and I’m not ashamed to admit this – I don’t understand the BCS. It’s difficult to be a fan of a sport when you don’t know the rules, and when somebody wins a championship, you’re not exactly sure why. Plus, sometimes you’re not even sure which game was the championship. (See: 2003.)

To boot, I’ve never been a fan of a particular team. Being a die-hard fan of a college football team, I would imagine, gives one great insight into the sport itself. A fan of a team would know at least one conference inside-and-out, and would have strong, albeit possibly biased opinions. (That’s the one thing, by the way, that drives me crazy about college football – I don’t watch enough games to forge my own opinions. I have to listen to the so-called experts tell me what’s going on. Auburn is better than LSU? Steve Slaton is a Heisman candidate? Ummm..okay! Whatever you guys say. But, as we all know, experts are morons, with the possible exception of Kirk Herbstreit, who seems to kind of know what he’s doing. But I don’t even trust him.) I guess there are two main reasons why I never aligned with a team. For starters, I did not attend a college with a big-time football program. It wasn’t even really a small-time program, either. It was sort of a no-time football program. We did not have a football team. (My high school also didn’t have a football team, but swimming was huge, so it sort of evened out.) The big sport at my college was lacrosse, which is kind of like football, except without all the fun. (I mean, who needs Ohio State versus Michigan when you have Johns Hopkins versus Loyola?) The second reason I never became a fan of a college football team may seem strange, considering that I grew up right next door to one. Of course, that team was Rutgers, which goes a long way towards explaining why I was never swept up in the hoopla of hometown college football.

Let me first explain that I was not not a fan of Rutgers because they were traditionally horrible. That did not weigh into my decision in any way. In fact, there was no conscious decision. Rutgers was always kind of just…there. Sure, I attended a game or two each season, but I certainly never felt any kind of affinity for them. There was no aura about Rutgers, never an irresistible urge to fall in love with the hometown team. At least, not for me. They never seemed to capture the imagination of a young, impressionable sports fan. Maybe it was the utter lack of tradition. Maybe it was the players. (Ray Lucas is our Tony Rice.) And, although it wasn’t that they were just bad, maybe it was the fact that they were so comically inept. Maybe it was the fact that I never forgave the school for putting me on the waiting list when I was applying for colleges. (Bastards.) I don’t know. Whatever the case, I always wished the program the best, but never lived and died with every passing Saturday.

Lord knows I’m not the only one who has felt this way. The knock on Rutgers football has always been, how could a State University – especially within a state that breeds as many talented football players as New Jersey – be treated with such indifference within its actual quarters? This has always been the riddle. It’s even stranger for me personally. My entire family grew up in New Brunswick, and many of my family members attended Rutgers, played sports at Rutgers, and remain die-hard fans of the football program. Yet, this allegiance has never transferred over. In areas like the Deep South, you are born into a college football program, even if you live two hours from campus, and regardless of whether or not you attend that school. I grew up 10 minutes from the Rutgers campus, and each 2-9 season passed with nary a shrug of the shoulders.

Let’s put it this way - when I was in high school and college, my summer job was working in the mailroom at my uncle’s law firm in downtown New Brunswick. It was usually the case that several Rutgers’ football players would intern there in the summers as well. Their membership in the fraternity of Rutgers football afforded them little more than a passing glance. Imagine, however, getting in the elevator everyday at work and seeing Brady Quinn. Imagine bumping into Reggie Bush at the copy machine. Not quite the same affect for the Scarlet Knights.

Old Rutgers

The reason I mention all of this is because, as the Rutgers football team enjoys its most successful season in decades, I want to reiterate that I am not hopping on any bandwagons. But that doesn’t mean I’m not happy for them, and for all the people I know who have stuck with them along the way. I have to admit, I was skeptical as to the Greg Schiano turnaround plan dating back to the beginning of last season, when Rutgers ceremoniously blew its opening game to Illinois in vintage Rutgers fashion. (On second thought, “vintage Rutgers fashion” would have been losing 42-3, not blowing a big lead late. So…scratch that.) Since then it’s been a whole new football team. They even went to a bowl game last year, losing a shootout with Arizona State, 45-40. Before that game, the mere mention of Rutgers in a bowl game would have elicited more laughter than a Friday night at the Stress Factory, another New Brunswick institution. This year, the Scarlet Knights are undefeated at 8-0, and ranked No. 14 in the entire nation. This Thursday, they’ll be facing another undefeated team and Big East foe Louisville, the No. 4 ranked team in the country. It’s the biggest Rutgers’ football game since, pretty much…ever.

So, good for them.

From what I’ve observed so far this season (I actually have caught almost every RU game), Rutgers may not be as good as their record would indicate. They’ve played a fairly weak schedule, and their biggest win of the year so far was at Pitt, a team coached by the immortal Dave Wannstedt. Quarterback Mike Teel is good for at least a couple of turnovers a game, and has yet to prove he can carry the team on his shoulders. Then again, he hasn’t had to. This Rutgers team is led by the dominance of Ray Rice, a suffocating defense, the versatility of Brian Leonard, and the inspiring confidence of Schiano. Besides, the negatives with this team are nitpicking, because their biggest success has been the return investment for fans who have survived years of heartache and embarrassment.

Like my friend Matt and his dad, who have been season-ticket holders since before Matt and I were in high school. Like my uncle Dave and his parents, all Rutgers’ alums who virtually never miss a home game, and who followed the team all the way to South Florida this season. Like every longtime RU fan whose biggest thrill of the season, for years, was when Miami came to Piscataway and wiped the floor with the hometown team. What they receive in return is a chance to watch their beloved Scarlet Knights put a stronghold on the Big East Conference, and leapfrog their way towards even more respectability. What they receive in return is a matchup between two top-15 ranked teams, at Rutgers Stadium, something that never seemed remotely possible. What they receive in return is No. 4 Louisville at No. 14 Rutgers, on freakin’ ESPN2, with everything on the line.

Not quite Michigan and Ohio State, but it’s a start.

And it sure as hell beats Johns Hopkins and Loyola.

I’ll be watching. Maybe not with my heart in my throat, but definitely not with my head in my hands.

New Rutgers...sweet

Monday, November 06, 2006

Weekend in review

Is it Monday yet, ESPN? Why yes, it is! Hey, guess what? Monday blows! Here is a recap of the weekend...

Dolphins beat the Bears, 31-13. Chicago will not go undefeated for the first time since 2005. Joey Harrington wakes up this morning on top of a piano, covered in empty wine cooler bottles.

Redskins beat Cowboys on game-ending field goal. Terrell Owens would be so much better if he could just, ya’ know…catch.

Bills beat Packers. J.P. Losman is just like Brett Favre, if you take away the first 10 years of Brett Favre’s career.

Colts beat Pats. This was a big game, until the Pats lost. Now it was just a lowly regular season game. Tom Brady shrugs it off. He didn’t even care about this game. It wasn’t big enough for his tastes. Peyton Manning would win a pointless game like this. Choker.

Joe Paterno hurts leg on sidelines during game. Won’t be funny until we’re positively certain he’s okay. Then, it’ll be like this. Or maybe this.

Bengals lose again…to Ravens. Chad Johnson changes name to “no show.”

Texas Rangers’ hire Ron Washington to be their manager. Ask him if he knows anyone who can pitch.

The Breeder’s Cup, ummm…happened. Horses were involved. Is there a fantasy league for this? No? Then what’s the point?

Who wants Gary Sheffield? What baggage are you talking about? He’s like Cal Ripken, Jr.! With a bat waggle!

Tiki Barber defeats Texans. Rest of Giants watch game tapes of the Bears in the locker room.

Stephon Marbury: four points (1-of-9 shooting), six turnovers on Saturday. Takes a dump at midcourt midway through the fourth quarter. Isiah refuses to clean it up.

I lose both fantasy matchups. Kevin Jones picks a great week to stop sucking. The Chicago D picks a great week to start.

I travel to Raleigh, North Carolina. I recommend the waffle house. They have waffles. And bring your old Starter jacket - they are just catching on.

Classic card of the week

Scott Williams, 1991-92 Upper Deck

Hey, yo…B.J….what the heck, man? Get the hell out of my basketball card, will ya’? You see the name on the bottom of the card? It says “Scott Williams.” I don’t see your freakin’ name anywhere, B.J. So why don’t you take your help defense, and get the hell out of here, all right? What, you think I can’t handle this punk? He’s got his freakin’ eyes closed, B.J.! He can’t even see you. I got this, aiiight? Look at my reach, B. J. Nobody is getting a sky hook over this reach. Your hand-checking methods aren’t doing anything, and they’re probably gonna earn you a foul, and we’re one foul away from putting them in the bonus. Why don’t you go and cover your man, before we get T’d up for illegal defense. He’s sneaking away over there on the perimeter. I swear, B.J. – if they swing the ball to your guy and we get burned with a three again because you’re over here trying to do MY job, I’m gonna freakin’ rip your heart out of your chest and stomp on it. Stop trying to kiss Phil’s ass with your hustling ways. He doesn’t give a crap about you. He doesn’t give a crap about anybody except Mike. Mike this, and Mike that. Get out of Mike’s way so he can shoot. Geez, he didn’t even notice my season-high 10 points against the Nuggets last year. I was unstoppable. But he didn’t care. I’m still not even starting ‘cause of stupid Cartwright, that uncoordinated goon. What is he like, 60? This is bull*&^$. It’s enough to make a man go crazy. Now here I am, trying to represent with this here card, and you’re all up in it, trying to steal the spotlight with your babyface and white wristband. My mom ordered like 500 of these cards, and now I’m in the background, in between a sleeping dude and some 10 year-old kid named “B.J.” I should be running this league by now. Nobody can check me. I dropped 14 on Anthony Mason in the Belmar Summer League three months ago. Cats were talking about that game for weeks, like, “Yo, Pippen is only the second best Scottie on Chicago!” That’s what my cousin said they were sayin’. You should have seen me, though. I dunked it from the three-point line. For real. Dunking from the foul line is for bitches. You can tell Mike I said that! Mark it down…Wait, don’t tell him that just yet, B.J. Hey, did you hear me? B.J.? Promise me you’re not gonna tell him! I was just kidding!…

Did you know?
Both Scott Williams and Michael Jordan attended the University of North Carolina, with varying results.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Classic card of the week

*Special Friday edition
LaPhonso Ellis, 1996-97 Stadium Club

Clifford Robinson always seemed to be on the wrong end of big NBA moments. In Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan scored 35 points in the first half, including six three-pointers, which culminated in the famous Jordan shrug to the sidelines, as if to imply that he could not understand what was happening, although what was happening was that Clifford Robinson was guarding him. “My headband was too tight,” is what Robinson would say in the post-game press conference, to which Jordan replied, “Headbands are for teenage girls and 55 year-old white dudes who play racquetball on the weekends. Clifford Robinson is a bitch.” Four years later, it was déjà vu for Cliff, as he was caught in the crosshairs of yet another watershed NBA moment – the day LaPhonso Ellis made his first jumpshot. Ellis had been in the league since 1993, and after a stellar rookie campaign that included 312 uncontested lay-ups, he would go on to miss almost the entire next two seasons after both of his kneecaps fell off during an offseason water-skiing accident. Ellis, who refused to wear a headband because they gave him acne and restricted his “brain movement,” made his return to the powerhouse Nuggets midway through the 1995-96 season. At first, he came off the bench to replace Dikembe Mutombo, who often needed a rest because he sucked so bad at basketball, but during a home game against the Portland Trailblazers in early January, LaPhonso Ellis got the nod. Amazingly, Ellis had yet to record an NBA field goal longer than 2.6 feet, but midway through the first quarter, he received the ball at the top of the key, and was supposed to swing it to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for a three. But as he was about to pass it, he caught a glimpse of the defender in front of him - a disinterested Clifford Robinson, who had his hands on his hips and who was staring blankly into the upper deck section of the Denver crowd. Ellis, infuriated by the goading of Robinson, unleashed a ridiculous two-handed set shot that banked off the backboard and went in. As you can see, Ellis’ reaction while running back down court was slightly less nonchalant than MJ’s, but was certainly warranted. Besides it being his first converted perimeter field goal in over four years, the basket also put the Nuggets up 17-13. And, although they would go on to lose the game 115-87, Ellis constructed an image that would last for ages – that of a crazed, psycho serial killer who wants to eat your dog with a spoon.

Did you know?
The headband made a comeback at the turn of the century, but Clifford Robinson was still not cool.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spike gives me an assist with the Knicks, now leads team in assists

It’s time to take an in-depth look at the New York Knicks, because if we don’t, then nobody will know how their season might turn out, and that would be horrible for everyone involved. Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is, “Just how bad will the Knicks actually be this year?” Worse than last year? Not as bad as two years ago? Better than the Raiders? The answer to this question lies in the hands of one man – super fan Spike Lee, who is, surprisingly, not an actual member of the Knicks’ organization. Nevertheless, he should be, because he is taller than Nate Robinson and definitely more culturally relevant than David Lee. Plus, he knows what “box out” means. Regardless, Spike came by to help me grade the Knicks from top to bottom. It was mostly bottom.

Point Guard: Stephon Marbury. My wife is a fan of “Starbury” now, ever since she found out that he released an affordable brand of basketball sneakers for, ya’ know, the kids. They did a news segment on it and everything, where Stephon was kissing babies and signing autographs and stuff, and my wife was like, “Awwwwwww…I like him! Good for him with those sneakers!” Unfortunately, she has never seen Stephon Marbury actually play basketball. Apparently, neither has Stephon, who famously declared himself the “best point guard in the NBA” two years ago. But hey, I’m not going to argue with Stephon and my wife! That would just be stupid. Grade: A+++
Says Spike: People keep sayin’ that Steph’s gotta distribute the rock more, and get the team more involved. But the rest of the team kind of sucks. You go, Starbury! It’s gotta be the shoes.

Shooting Guard: Jamal Crawford. I think Crawford takes his title of “shooting guard” a bit too seriously. He’s never met a shot he didn’t like, or take, and that, coupled with Starbury’s penchant for ill-advised jumpers, makes it a wonder that anybody else on the floor gets more than three touches a game. If I were one of the other four guys on the court, I would just stand at the top of the key and wait for one of Crawford’s jumpers to clang off the back of the rim and bounce back to me, at which point I would immediately shoot the ball, so I had a chance of getting into the box score. That is called “fundamental basketball.” Anyway, all that said, when Crawford is hot – and he can definitely get hot – he is pretty much unstoppable. He’s by far the most electric player on the team, even though he’ll drive you nuts, and he has a knack for nailing the big shot. And the Knicks are going to need a lot of big shots. Like, a 25-point shot, for example. Crawford should get on that. Grade: B-
Says Spike: If it weren’t for Jamal, I probably would have given up my courtside seats by now. The buzzer-beaters he hit last year, and those 50-point games actually made the season worth it. Okay, not really, but still…

Other Guard: Steve Francis. I almost forgot about Stevie Franchise. By the way, how can you be the “franchise” and also the third guard that nobody knows what to do with? If Steve Francis is the “Franchise,” then what does that make LeBron James? A complimentary role player? I’m confused. He also loves to shoot though, which is nice. Grade: C-
Says Spike: I like Stevie, I really do. I just don’t see where he fits into this team. He was coming off the bench at times last year, and that’s just not his game. You gotta be on the court to miss shots.

Seriously, Another Guard: Nate Robinson. People seem to like Nate Robinson, mainly because his game actually exposes everything that’s wrong with the Knicks in general. He’s young, he plays defense, he hustles his butt off, and he plays a more traditional point guard role than anybody else on the team (i.e., he passes the ball sometimes, basically). His small stature – he’s listed at 5’9”, which is generous – makes him an overachiever just to be in the NBA. But he’s not a sideshow – he’s actually very talented. It was hard to gage just how talented he was last season, as his playing time fluctuated under then head coach Larry Brown. I would expect his playing time to increase this year, although it’s difficult to say considering the Knicks have 18 other guards, all making considerably more money than Robinson. But rumor has it that Isiah Thomas sees a little of himself in Robinson, which means, I guess, that Nate Robinson is in line to ruin the Knicks in 2025. Grade: B-
Says Spike: Love Nate. Love ‘em. You can feel the electricity in the Garden when he enters the game. He’s like the Jose Reyes of the Knicks, that is, if Jose Reyes barely played because there were 12 Kenny Loftons ahead of him on the depth chart.

(By the way, there would have been room here for yet another guard were it not for Monday’s news involving the Knicks’ unceremonious waiving of Jalen Rose. Personally, I could never quite figure Rose out. Was he a strong veteran presence, or an underachieving malcontent? Now we may never know the answer. Fortunately for the Knicks, it will cost them $14 million to have Jalen Rose not play for them this season, a shrewd financial move by all accounts. Other NBA teams are apparently scrambling to pay Rose more money to not play for them. So, touché, Isiah. Nevetheless, Jalen Rose will be sorely missed. Although, not really. His name will live on however, in paycheck form. Grade: F
Says Spike: I think people feel the same way about me as I did about Jalen – I liked him a lot better in 1992.)

Forward (But Really a Shooting Guard): Quentin Richardson. Quentin’s nickname is “Q,” probably because his name begins with a “Q,” which I think is genius. Q, a pure shooter, is not known for creating his own shot, but he thrived in Phoenix, where the offense was predicated on ball movement, running, and getting open looks. He seems much less relevant in the Knicks’ offense of walking the ball up the court, and then watching the guy who walked the ball up the court wave everybody off and miss a shot. Grade: C
Says Spike: Quentin reminds me a lot of Ray Allen. Actually, I’m thinking of doing a sequel to “He Got Game” starring Q as Jesus Shuttleworth’s son. It’s tentatively titled, “He Got Game?”

Center (Kind Of): Channing Frye. Showed a ton of promise as a rookie last year, but was derailed by injuries and, again, Brown’s infinite lineup changes. He has a finesse game for a big man, but he’s still one of the Knicks biggest inside threats. He might be slightly overrated, or a star-in-the-making. We may find out this year. He could be the difference between the Knicks being really, really, bad, or just bad. Grade: B
Says Spike: He’s got a great touch around the basket, and can block a shot or two. But what we really need are some guards!

Other Centers (Sort Of): Eddy Curry & Jerome James. I lumped these two together because I wanted to create the biggest bust of all time! Did it work? Who knows though, maybe Curry won’t be carrying around an extra 30 pounds this year, and maybe he doesn’t have serious heart problems. And maybe Jerome James will return the $65 million he owes the Knicks. Grade: D
Says Spike: Every time I watch Curry play, I think of the Indian spice curry, because the longer both are around, the more they stink. And don’t even get me started on Jerome James. He may be J.J., but he sure as hell ain’t dynamite.

Miscellaneous: Renaldo Balkman already has the weight of being the worst draft pick ever on his shoulders. David Lee is okay, maybe, I think. Jared Jeffries is what Channing Frye will be if Channing Frye never pans out. Plus, Jeffries is injured now, which is wonderful. Kelvin Cato? Whatever. Malik Rose will be good for fouls at the end of games, and Qyntel Woods will have to battle Q for the nickname of Q, which should be a heated affair. Grade: D
Says Spike: Lee’s the white one, right? He’s a feisty (bleeeeeeep).

Coach / GM / Alleged Sexual Harasser / General Bringer Down of Franchise: Isiah Thomas. Well, here we are. Isiah’s at the helm. I’m not sure what could possibly go wrong here. Grade: A (for comedy) / F (for results)
Says Spike: Let’s just say, if I were making a movie about this season, I’d need Sherman Hemsley, a box of Tums, and a whole lotta Benny Hill music.