February 27, 2007

Livingston's Last Dance

Clippers’ TV announcer Ralph Lawler has a tendency to air on the side of irreverent, but as he narrated the replay of Shaun Livingston’s ill-fated lay-up attempt on Monday night, his voice seemed to be as grave as it can possibly get.

“If you’re a little squeamish, you might not want to see this,” Lawler says.

As the replay shows Livingston leaving the floor, Lawler's partner, Mike Smith, cuts in and says: “It’s gotta be when he lands.”

And then, as Livingston hits the floor, you hear Lawler’s voice come back, a jumbled mess of monosyllabic utterances: “Oh yeah, oh oh dear me… oh yes… oh dear.” (Okay, on paper these look like the words of a man who might be spending an afternoon in a shady massage parlor, but rest assured that Lawler truly sounds distressed.)

After Livingston lands, and is lying there on the ground, Lawler’s words say everything: “Yeah, and there’s no kneecap there if you noticed.”

In case you missed it – and it seems like it would be difficult to do so considering that this story is getting a large amount of attention even from non-NBA fans – on Monday night against Charlotte, Shaun Livingston conjured memories of Joe Theismann, Napoleon McCallum and Moises Alou circa 1993 with as gruesome a sports injury as you’ll see – a dislocated left knee that occurred when he landed awkwardly after a lay-up attempt in the first quarter.

The term “dislocated left knee” doesn't really do it justice – when Livingston hit the floor, his leg went completely gummy, flopping around and turning in directions a limb should never turn, as if it were a pant leg stuffed with cotton on some poorly put-together stunt dummy.

And yeah, we try to keep everything in perspective around these parts as much as we can, and though this is just one leg injury to one athlete, it’s hard not to feel bad for the kid. (And yes, unlike Ime Udoka, Shaun Livingston is only a kid – he just turned 21 in September.

Now, it seems pretty likely that his career, if not completely over, has been dismantled. Remember Patriots’ running back Robert Edwards? After a great rookie year in 1998, he dislocated his knee playing flag football and was essentially done – he re-appeared in the NFL in 2002 but wasn’t the same player.

On Saturday night, Shaun Livingston tied his career-high with 14 assists. Now the word “career” has a much more tenuous meaning.

Bad stuff happens all the time in sports. But something about this freak injury robbing Livingston of his livelihood seems particularly tough to handle.

Just so happens that The OCC has a rec league hoops game this evening. Has it crossed our mind that a crazy sports accident could happen to us sometime too? Absolutely. Will that adversely affect the way we play? Not tonight.

Tonight, we go at the rim full speed.

February 26, 2007

The Truth About Haircuts

This past weekend, we had the good fortune of spending some extended time in the company of a 93-year-old man. For those of you who hear this news and assume that we've started an outreach program to assist the elderly, we assure you that this is not the case. The man in question is our grandfather. (You should know by now that we don't do community service around here.)

In any case, this visit spawned a number of noteworthy moments, but perhaps none more memorable (at least from a sports perspective) than the one that occurred during Saturday afternoon’s Florida-LSU college hoops matchup.

With Florida center Joakim Noah at the line, our grandfather – who watches the games, though it is never clear how closely he does so – suddenly blurted out:

“Well, is this a boy’s game or a women’s game?”

(It also should be noted here that he’s prone to blurting out sudden and random topics of conversation.)

It was not apparently clear what he meant by this comment, so we simply went ahead and responded, “It’s a men’s game.”

By way of explanation, our 93-year-old companion added, “I saw a player with long hair.”

Ahh… now we understood what was going on. Our dignified conversational accompaniment had noticed Noah’s exceedingly bouffant ponytail and, being 93 and perhaps not the most well-traveled man in the history of humankind, he assumed that any individual with a ponytail must be a woman.

We proceeded to explain that this was still in fact a men’s college basketball game and this player just so happened to have donned a ponytail as his hairstyle of choice.

To this, our esteemed observer commented, “I don’t know if he’s off in his brains or what.”

We believe, though we can’t be certain, that this was his way of saying, Wow, that hairdo is completely played out.

Take note, Joakim – your current style is not playing well with the 85-and-over set, as one of its members believes that you’d have to be either a) a woman or b) completely out of your gourd to sport your current ‘do.

And while we’re not necessarily agreeing with his assessment that you look like a female, a crazy person, or a female crazy person, we have to admit that we do kind of see this as some kind of sign from above (and by “above,” we mean “age bracket above us”) that it might be time to change up your look.

Feel free to take this advice or leave it, but just know that before this season, our grandfather was watching some Suns-Mavs highlights and uttered a few choice words about the Suns’ point guard and the Mavs’ power forward having mangy, unkempt manes. (He specifically said that the guy on the Mavs looked like a “gangly old witch.”)

Not long thereafter, both Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki suddenly surfaced sporting dramatically shorter hair. Coincidence? You decide.

We’re just saying, there’s more to this whole thing than you realize.

February 23, 2007

Love in the Wild West, Part Deux: The Boston Massacre

It seems like just a few weeks ago that we were celebrating the offbeat and unconventional love-related stylings of Celtics’ PG Delonte West on this site. (Come to think of it, it was just a few weeks ago.)

But now it’s become quite apparent that something’s downright rotten in Denmark, as Delonte recently got the Jonathan Babineaux canine treatment from his recently dumped girlfriend.

Which is not to say that he was murdered (as it is alleged that Babineaux recently slayed his girlfriend’s hound) – more accurately, Delonte’s girlfriend allegedly bit him, tried to strangle the life out of his body and then attempted to slash the life out of her own body with shards of glass.

It should be noted that the girlfriend, Caryn Taylor, says that she wasn’t trying to kill herself but was trying to prove to Delonte that she wasn’t “(expletive) around” – as the Boston Herald’s report puts it – about their relationship.

Nothing quite says “I care about you” like choking someone and then slashing up your own wrists!

Apparently this whole thing came about because Delonte had some friends and family who had been staying with the couple and were, according to Taylor, “picking on her.”

Just a hunch, but maybe they were picking on her because she’s obviously out of her mind.

At this point, we can’t help but think back to Delonte’s spectacular discourse on love on ESPN.com’s Page 2, and in particular, we’re thinking of this quote, used to describe part of a romantic evening with a hypothetical lover on a boat:

“OK, so from there, we're doing a midnight skinny-dipping jump. Alright? From there, hopefully she's got money because I hope Jaws gets her, boom, make sure she got me in the will, bank, I'm good. Oh well, shark got her! Jaws got her. Nah, we ain't going there.”

This was obviously some kind of strange joke at the time, but right now, you have to think that Delonte West might “hope Jaws gets her” more sincerely than ever before.

February 21, 2007

Man Versus Beast

In the most compelling and sensational case of alleged animal cruelty since the publicized reports of Ron Artest’s blatant neglect of his Great Dane named Socks about a week and a half ago, Falcons’ defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux has been accused of killing his girlfriend’s dog, a pit bull mix named Kilo.

Since we’ve forever condemned ourselves to displaying a callous coldness when it comes to the inhumane treatment of animals in the wake of our tirade against the excessive and misplaced outpouring of sympathy towards Barbaro, we’re not going to write a eulogy here for Kilo.

There will be no fond memories of the dog’s year and a half on this earth, in part because we have none to share, but more so because we’d hate to appear hypocritical even though we will admit we don’t condone the slaying of canines in any capacity. (Unless they are a breed of gun-toting, helmeted dogs who are plotting to empty our bank accounts and steal all of our perishable foods.)

By all accounts, however, Kilo was just a normal dog with no malicious intentions who appears to have gotten in the way of a 286-pound man. (For the record, 286 pounds translates to about 130 kilograms, or “kilos,” if you prefer the abbreviation.)

It should also be noted that according to police reports, Kilo died of “blunt force trauma” to the head, which inevitably calls to mind Duke’s motivational speech from Rocky Balboa, which is by far the best part of the reasonably entertaining if not a bit too sappy and predictable film:

“To beat this guy, you need speed. You don’t have it. You’ve got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out. So what we’ll be calling on is blunt… force… trauma. Heavy duty punches that will rattle his ancestors. Let’s start buildin’ some hurtin’ bombs.”

Wow. You had us at “blunt force trauma,” Duke. If that speech doesn’t get you just a little bit fired up, you’ve got issues.

In fact, Duke’s monologue is so engrossing that we lost track of what we were talking about. Ahh yes, animal brutality. Right – fun times.

For the record, Babineaux has denied “rattling Kilo’s ancestors” in any way, so it remains to be seen whether or not he’ll actually face any kind of penalty for allegedly unleashing his “hurtin’ bombs” on the hound.

Whatever the case, we’d like to say that while we are contractually obligated to show no outward feelings of sympathy towards the deceased mutt due to the “Barbaro Clause,” we would like to say that our thoughts are with Kilo’s family and his close friend Ace, Babineaux’s other dog who has temporarily been taken into custody pending the investigation and should definitely think carefully before he considers snitching.

Just a hunch, but we have a feeling that Mr. Babineaux wouldn’t look too kindly upon such behavior.

February 20, 2007

Just Another Saturday Night in Las Vegas

A few thoughts from All-Star Saturday that continue to linger in our mind like a festering yet strangely pleasurable hangover:

1) Must admit, this Shooting Stars competition (featuring a current NBA player, former NBA star and current WNBA player) is not the stupidest thing we’ve ever seen in our lives.

However, it does seem a bastardly exercise in cruelty that the rules are designed so that the aging former player has to shoot a three from the top of the key as opposed to one of the closer shots. Because while it was admittedly about 12 percent entertaining to watch Michael Cooper clang about 14 threes in a row, it was also 87 percent agonizing (lab results are not yet in on the remaining one percent).

And on a broader note, it seems odd that every NBA player had to shoot from the same spot (the left elbow and the left wing), every WNBA player shot a short bank shot and a mid-range baseline j, and every semi-gimpy former star had to hoist a straightaway three. Wouldn’t it make the competition more interesting if the teams were allowed to mix it up and decide who shoots what?

Also needs to be mentioned that play-by-play man Kevin Harlan seemed to be a tad bit disheveled during this event, at one point giving credit for a made half court shot to the WNBA player (we believe it was Swin Cash) when the NBA player (to our recollection Chauncey Billups) blatantly made the shot. Quite odd considering that it would have been essentially impossible to mistake if you were watching the action, which makes us think that maybe Kevin Harlan wasn’t watching at that particular moment. Maybe he dropped his pen.

And lastly, it’s kind of funny to think that this was some sort of a tryout for Scottie Pippen, who’s hoping to make a comeback for the last part of this year.

Though Scottie’s only 41, the fact that the other former NBA greats participating in the contest were Michael Cooper, George Gervin and Bill Laimbeer speaks to the incontrovertible truth that it’s not so much your numerical age that matters, but who you associate with that determines exactly where you are in life. Pippen may have looked to be in pretty decent shape, but there’s no denying it – Scottie’s old.

Most words ever written in one place about the Shooting Stars competition? Survey says: yes. Time to move on at once.

2) It was interesting to hear one of the TNT commentators (either Kenny Smith or Reggie Miller) say that LeBron was being too nonchalant during his run through the Skills Challenge in light of the fact that some believe that LBJ might be coasting a little bit at this point in his career.

Not to say that how seriously one takes the Skills Challenge is an automatic barometer for how hard he’s playing. It was just noteworthy, that’s all.

And for the record, when it first debuted, the Skills Challenge was an exciting novelty and a great addition to the All-Star Saturday festivities, but this year it looked a little bit too easy (aside from the passing through the tires). The obstacle course could use a little bit of revamping to up the difficulty a little, because while we don’t need to see Dwayne Wade hurdling snake pits with a basketball tucked under his arm, it would also be nice to see him and others have to work a little bit to complete the course.

3) And now some love for the Three-Point Shootout, the one event at All-Star Weekend that seems to stay evergreen. Honestly, the only modification we can think of would be adding a couple more shooters and an extra round. Otherwise, it’s still good theater, and the sight of great shooters doing what they do just doesn’t really get old.

A couple other thoughts on the Three-Point contest:

-It was interesting to see how much everyone struggled from the baseline, particularly on the first rack. Maybe it was just a matter of getting loose, but the first rack shots were generally way off, and come to think of it, it’s hard to picture guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Gilbert Arenas shooting a lot of corner 3’s in games, so maybe there’s something to those baseline struggles that indicates a larger trend among some of the NBA’s elite shooters. (Or maybe we’re just conveniently forgetting that Dirk and Gilbert shoot a lot of corner 3’s to add weight to our otherwise obvious comment that all of the shooters struggled on the first rack.)

-Speaking of throwing up bricks on the first rack (and everywhere else on the court), Jason Terry appeared to be shooting way too fast. And his shot was definitely the ugliest (relatively speaking) of anyone’s in the contest. But it’s kind of impressive that he shoots so well on 3’s in game action despite that slightly busted-looking j.

-The contest definitely would have benefited from a small graphic showing each player’s maximum possible score as he progressed through the racks, because there were multiple instances where Kenny Smith and Reggie were saying that a player still had an outside chance to get the necessary score if he went perfect on his remaining shots, but you got the sense that they didn’t actually know if that was true or not and were just going on gut instinct. A graphic would solve this problem.

-Gotta love the fact that Gilbert shot his final rack one-handed (and many props to Reggie Miller for acknowledging the significance of the one-handed shot as it relates to the now famous Arenas-DeShawn Stevenson contest). For a second there it looked like TNT was going to let that moment pass without catching its importance.

Also of note: Shortly after Arenas finished his turn, the cameras zoomed in on Dwayne Wade on the sideline, who appeared to turn and say to someone nearby, “That boy got an ego.” Gotta think he was talking about Arenas.

You’ve also gotta think that somewhere DeShawn Stevenson was boiling over like a Dutch tea kettle. (Dutch tea kettles of course being notoriously boil prone.)

4) Due to time constraints brought about by ongoing office-wide jujitsu training, we have been unable as of yet to load up the dunk contest on DVR for a proper screening.

But from having seen the highlights and from what we’ve heard, we can tell that:

a) Gerald Green’s winning dunk was not all that special;

b) it appears as though Dwight Howard was robbed;

c) the contest once again proved that it’s in need of some more star power – come on, Kobe and Vince, get in there – or at the very least some mild to serious revamping if it ever hopes to return to what it once was.

Because at this precise moment, for a number of reasons, the dunk contest feels a little bit like an afterthought.

(Although truth be told, we can't stop thinking about watching it... which just goes to show, once and for all, that we have issues.)

February 15, 2007

Caution: The Water is Hot

In case you haven’t noticed over the years, we here at The Off-Color Commentator try to avoid weighing in on issues unless they either a) warrant some sort of debate or discourse or b) have some inherently hilarious qualities that need to be elucidated at all costs.

So when word comes along that Tim Hardaway has said he hates gay people, frankly we find his viewpoint to be so blatantly ignorant and ridiculous that we’re left to wonder what thought process might have led him to consider saying…

…and see, we’re already boring ourselves talking about this.

Others can give Tim Hardaway the proper reprimand. In this case, piling on (not in that way) feels unnecessary, and more importantly, doesn’t seem like it would be very entertaining.

Thusly liberated, we’d much rather shift the focus from Hardaway’s gay bashing to discuss the fact that Kerry Wood will be sidelined for a few days of spring training after he slipped and fell while getting out of his hot tub.

According to reports, the brunt of the impact was on Wood’s “stomach and chest.” Somewhere we can hear Tim Hardaway cringing.

(Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

In all seriousness, there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this.

In general, we’re firm believers in the “you only live once” theory, which is to say that sure you want to exercise some self preservation on a daily basis, but at some point you’ve gotta throw caution to the wind and take a risk.

However, there are at least two exceptions to this rule:

1) If you think you’re about to say something that might be seen as extremely ignorant and/or hateful,


2) if you’re climbing out of a hot tub,

you really should be careful.

February 14, 2007

The Bell Tolls for Thee, Cherub

Not sure if you've heard the news by now or not – and if not, we hate to be the bearers of bad tidings – but word has come down from the top (and we do mean the top) that Valentine's Day '07 has been cancelled due to inclement weather in the Northeast. (Check the weather forecast if you don't believe us.)

This information will of course come as a great relief to those of you who had not yet made brilliant plans for your significant other and were scrambling to try to save face at the last minute after your suggestion of a trip to Hardee's was not well-received.

And if for some reason you have any trouble convincing your significant other that Valentine's Day has indeed been cancelled, you can refer that individual back to this post for proof.

(By the way, we definitely wouldn't lie about something like this.)


Now a few quick and random thoughts from the world of sport:

While reading this Orlando Sentinel blog entry about Darko Milicic's impending free agency this offseason, we were struck with the thought that perhaps the Magic have been limiting Darko's minutes in an effort to keep his value in check so that they have the inside track on re-signing him.

It's an idea that simultaneously sounds crazy yet not that crazy at all. You expose Darko to some key situations and substantial playing time this year, but don't fully let your Milicic out of the bag for fear that others might realize he's a potential game-changing big man who's still only 21.

In all likelihood, it's been inconsistent play and foul trouble that have limited Darko's minutes and kept him out of the starting lineup until recently (when an injury to
Tony Battie opened up a spot for him) as opposed to the Magic legitimately hiding him.

But given that the Magic clearly aren't going far in the playoffs this year
and given that Darko has said he wants to stay in Orlando they might be wise to keep him underneath the proverbial tarp, because with many more 16-point, 12-rebound, 4-block games like the one Darko unloaded on New Jersey Saturday, the suitors will soon be coming a-callin' (not in that way).


Also on the topic of young emerging players, we have indeed noticed that Celtics' PG
Rajon Rondo has been playing well of late, but it seems like Kia's choice to name a car after him ("The Rondo") is going a little bit overboard.

And while we'd like to endorse the auto company's clever choice of billing The Rondo as "the crossover utility vehicle"
a clear allusion to Rajon's wicked crossover dribble it's a little too cutesy for our liking.

Frankly, we'd much rather see them put out a car called "The Delonte." With a name like that, you get the feeling that a vehicle could really go places.

February 12, 2007

It's Hard to Throw Straight When You're Drunk

For those of us who were all waiting for the other shoe to drop on Red Sox signee Daisuke Matsuzaka – a star pitcher in his prime with a golden arm and the chance to be a New England baseball demigod – that proverbial shoe has finally plummeted to the floor.

There’s really no way to break this news gently, so we’ll just come out and say it:

Daisuke Matsuzaka drinks beer.

Yes, that’s right – this so-called baseball hero likes to chug big frothy glasses of Asahi Super “Dry” ale, as depicted in a wildly popular Japanese television ad.

This revelation has caused a great deal of concern among officials in Major League Baseball in light of the fact that MLB doesn’t allow its players to endorse beer here in the U.S. (though that rule does not apply internationally).

Said Red Sox director of media relations John Blake, “It’s a perception, and we certainly want our players to be perceived in the right light.”

You can, of course, understand Blake’s – and to a greater extent, Major League Baseball’s – concern. The sport would never want its players to be associated with a foul-smelling, mind-altering, completely harmless if consumed in small quantities beverage that might just for a moment potentially distract its fans from the fact that many players are still most likely injecting far more disconcerting substances than Asahi Super Dry into their bloodstream on a regular basis.

The point here is – and it’s a point that’s been made on this site before – let’s all relax and get our priorities straight. Quit wasting money and resources on keeping players from endorsing beer when many of them are still (indirectly) endorsing illegal drugs by getting huge and swatting homers thanks to said drugs.

And for the record, we weren’t sure exactly why this commercial is so wildly popular in Japan until the final seconds, when Matsuzaka pounds the beer, lets out a sigh and then pensively looks into the empty glass as though he’s peering into its soul. The commercial then cuts to him throwing a pitch and promptly ends with the words Super Dry on the screen, touched off by a single note on what sounds like a xylophone, for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Maybe not quite on par with “For relaxing times, make it Suntori time,” but it’s quality work nonetheless.

February 09, 2007

On the Run from Johnny Law: Ain't No Trip to Cleveland

As we all wait in uncontrollable anticipation for the signature event of the sports calendar year – The Pro Bowl – we can at least take a small measure of relief in having some NFL-related news to tide us over.

Said news comes courtesy of Chargers’ safety Terrence Kiel, who recently pled guilty to shipping packages of cough syrup to Texas.

It’s just the latest in a string of borderline innocuous run-ins with Johnny Law for Kiel, whose criminal resume reads more like the dossier of an irreverent middle schooler than it does a criminal mastermind.

Consider his noteworthy transgressions:

1) Shipping cough syrup to Texas to be mixed with soft drinks, thereby creating a concoction called “lean.”

Okay, so the aforementioned cough syrup does contain codeine, which is a controlled substance and is not necessarily something you want your kiddies ingesting along with Saltine crackers after school.

So while it’s clear on one level why this is a serious offense, it also sounds very silly on the surface to say that this guy is in big trouble because he was shipping packages of cough syrup to mix with soda.

What’s next – grinding Flinstones vitamins into a fine powder, combining them with Pop Rocks and snorting them for hallucinogenic effects? Really now. And what do we think this “lean” concoction does, anyway? Based on the name, you’d think it was some sort of weight loss aid, but there’s certainly a very large part of me that hopes its effects are much more similar to PCP and give you the temporary superhuman ability to run through brick walls, absorb multiple bullets and dive headlong through plate glass windows. (Because all of those things are obviously high comedy.)

So we’re going to reserve judgment until we’ve had a chance to try this so-called “lean” concoction first hand. (As soon as that box of cough medicine arrives that Terrence was supposed to ship, we’ll let you know.)

2) In addition to his notable ties to Triaminic, Kiel has also been under investigation by the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Immigration Enforcement for his involvement with counterfeit Nikes from China.

Wait a second – cough syrup, soda, and sneakers? Could you put together a criminal empire with more innocuous materials if you tried? Maybe he could somehow mix in a couple of hula hoops and some Hello Kitty memorabilia to really take this enterprise over the top.

3) It also has to be noted that Kiel is currently facing a February 20 court date for a count of public urination.

And frankly, that’s where we have to draw the line.

Peeing on the street?

This is one sick bastard.


Speaking of sick bastards, you may have heard by now about the Bears fan who is legally changing his name to Peyton Manning after making a vow at a bar that he would take the Indy QB’s name if the Colts beat the Bears in the Super Bowl.

Explains the artist soon to be formerly known as Scott Wiese, “I made the best, and now I’ve got to keep it.”

Here’s the thing, Scott (or should we say, Peyton): No you don’t.

Does this guy understand anything about drunken pledges? Pretty much the whole point of making them is that they’re generally hilarious at the time and then you wake up the next day and realize it’s a horrible idea.

Sure we’ve all at one time or another made semi-inebriated reference to chopping off various limbs if certain events do or don’t unfold, but this doesn’t mean the next morning we all actually woke up, picked up a katana blade and went to work on lopping off our arms. (The exception to this case being delusional rugby fan Geoffrey “Hacksaw” Huish, who actually did go ahead and cut off his testicles because of a sports-related pledge he made to a friend.)

In any case, we can probably all agree that this little name changing strays way closer to unnecessarily reckless and idiotic behavior than it does honorable upholding of a promise.

If we did all the things we said we were going to do while under the influence of alcohol, or “lean,” or whatever substance floats our respective boat, we would most likely all be limbless, testicle-less freaks who legally changed our name to Billy Joe Tolliver (for reasons we’d rather not explain).


Hey, did you catch the news that Gilbert Arenas is going to be in the three-point shooting contest at All-Star weekend?

What are the chances that:

a) he attempts to shoot one-handed;

b) he stands by the ball rack and makes distracting fake shooting motions while the other players are attempting to shoot;

c) he wins the whole thing and then flops around on the floor like a dead fish;

d) a still bitter and wildly resentful DeShawn Stevenson, having consumed ungodly amounts of “lean” in a very short period of time, finds his way into the arena and attempts to assassinate Arenas with a bow and arrow because he’s still bitter that Gilbert took his $20,000?

Okay, none of these are particularly likely, but given his antics during his recent post practice three-point contest with Stevenson, there’s at least a small chance that Gilbert will try to pants Dirk Nowitzki while the German is pulling one of the money balls off the rack (so to speak).

It's hard to remember a player who’s so enjoyable and entertaining to watch yet at the same time would so clearly be the most annoying and infuriating guy to compete against.

If the NBA and TNT really wanted to up TV ratings for All-Star weekend, they'd stage an Arenas-Stevenson rematch live, directly following the regular three-point shootout. They could play the original video on the big screen first just to bring the entire crowd up to speed, and then bring in Stevenson in a boxer's robe, walking in to James Brown's "The Payback."

This would be excellent television.

February 08, 2007

An Old Fashioned Throw Down

All of you two-bit Yanks who are still harboring undying geographic resentment over that whole “Civil War” thing are probably none too pleased when this site takes a moment to dole out some occasional love for the Dirty South.

Sorry to say, you’ll have to do your best not to turn up your nose in disdain as we take a brief foray into Georgia high school hoops – specifically to look at a unique feature in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showing (in video form) the various signature dunks of some of the premier ballers in the state.

(And to all you Yanks who thought we still used irrigation canals instead of regular plumbing and brushed our teeth with sticks and river water, we’ve actually got digital videos that we can put on the Internet. Take that!)

So if you can put your petty grudges aside, go check out the video here. Then come back and read the breakdown, which begins now:

Okay, so these weren’t the most incredible dunks you’ve ever seen, but remember, these are high schoolers. At The OCC’s high school, we’d take any dunk we could get, even if it was of the typical right-handed flush variety. If any of these were to have happened in our gymnasium back in the day, the entire place would have quite literally combusted and everyone would have died the most blissful death of all time.

A few things that stand out from the video:

1) There are a couple instances in here (most notably during the footage of Delwan Graham of Dunwoody High School) when the dunks go into slow motion and you’ll notice the slow motion groaning sound most commonly associated with a) someone diving in front of the assassin’s bullet in a cheesy movie, and b) that dude in your office who takes excruciatingly awful, drawn-out dumps every day after lunch.

Pretty comical to hear that noise over footage of these dunks, especially since it sounds a lot like the audio was dubbed in. Which, if true, would obviously be great. Because dubbing is funny.

2) Gotta give some props to the names for these dunks, which range from the mundane and uninteresting (“Get the crowd hyped”) to the subtly spectacular (“The dagger,” and “Grits,” because whenever Gani Lawal of Norcross High School is near the goal, “it’s instant.”)

3) And as for the best dunk, the vote here goes to Jerron Stone of Decatur High in Atlanta, alma mater of Ravens’ back-up tight end Daniel Wilcox and perennial rival of The OCC’s previously-alluded to high school.

Never mind that Stone’s nickname is “J-Bunny” – his dunk, at least, is pretty sick. Even if he does take about 35 steps without dribbling to set it up. Making the dunk even better is that his teammates go absolutely nuts when he throws it down, even though they’ve all probably seen it about 30 times.

In closing, gotta give a quick fist pound to the AJC for putting up such an innovative feature (the mechanics of pounding fists with a newspaper are still being worked out). You can only hope that with continuing advances in video technology, more local papers will be able to put up videos such as these, which really opened a previously closed door into the world of Georgia high school basketball.

(Note to self: Kill self for sounding way too much like a poorly-written public service announcement in final sentence.)


Speaking of dogs (which we were not previously speaking of), did you hear the one about Ron Artest (reportedly) being insanely cruel to his Great Dane named Socks, which he is said to have left unfed and unattended in his yard for weeks at a time?

Apparently, RonRon claims that one of his dogs, an American bulldog, “dominated all the food,” which is a principle you’ll actually be quite familiar with if you’ve watched Kings’ games this year, where the American bulldog is Artest, Socks the Great Dane represents Artest’s teammates and “food” is the ball. Dude quite often dribbles the ball for about 18 seconds out of the 24 and then throws up a shot no matter where he is when the shot clock’s winding down. Almost induces puke to watch it.

But getting briefly back to the hounds, we’re not going to go getting all PETA on this topic, particularly after our intentionally insensitive remarks about that one horse whose name we can’t currently remember.

However, we will say this: Animal cruelty is kind of creepy. And it makes people who do it look slightly, if not very, depraved. So if Ron Artest is trying to reform his image (and by all accounts while he hasn’t done anything that crazy of late, he’s still not trying all that hard), he might want to try taking the time out of his day to simply feed the dog.

Or at the bare minimum, he could throw a ball to it occasionally. At least then he’d be making a clear effort to pass to somebody.

February 07, 2007

A Sorry Excuse for an Apology

By now, you’ve probably heard the news that Bulls’ rookie Tyrus Thomas made some disparaging remarks about participating in the dunk contest during All-Star Weekend, essentially declaring that he’s in it for the money.

And you may or may not have heard the word that the NBA is now considering replacing Thomas in the dunk contest in the wake of his choice words.

You also may have caught wind that Thomas issued an apology through his agents, and it’s this that I want to stop and focus on for a second.

Because while Thomas hating on the game and hating on an event (the dunk contest) that has clearly lost some of its clout but remains a reasonably big deal to a ton of pro hoops fans is kind of infuriating, on this particular day and at this particular moment the practice of someone else issuing an apology for you comes across as decidedly absurd.

Here’s what Tyrus Thomas (through his agents) said to apologize:

“I truly feel honored to be invited to participate in this year's slam dunk contest during next week's NBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas. The opportunity to represent the Bulls and the city of Chicago on a global stage is a privilege that I do not take lightly. I regret the extent to which my comments indicate otherwise.”

And here’s why this is stupid:

Because there’s no way in hell Tyrus Thomas actually said anything close to that.

Not to presume anything about the way Thomas speaks – I confess to not having ever heard him talk that I can recall – but the fact is, this quote is not phrased like spoken English. It’s too perfect; the sentences are constructed too carefully to have been said out loud without any fumbled or unnecessary words. This is written English.

And since someone else read it for him, having a decent amount of common knowledge about how much work sports agents do for their clients, we have to assume that someone else wrote it for him too.

Is anything stated in the previous paragraph groundbreaking? No.

And that’s just the thing. We’ve become so accustomed to this process that we blindly accept it, but when you stop to think about it, it’s absurd.

Why is it acceptable, or remotely necessary, for someone else to apologize for you? When a 10-year-old kid kicks another child in the groin or smashes an unsuspecting individual’s Lego structure, his teachers or parents almost without fail make him go apologize to the other kid face-to-face. He is not allowed to send his older brother or one of his friends as a proxy. He has to make the apology himself. It’s pretty much one of the most basic unwritten principles that our society has – if you do something wrong, you’re supposed to at the very least apologize for it (if not pay the other person lots of money and/or spend five to seven years in the pokey).

So why can’t Tyrus Thomas (representative of the hundreds or thousands of athletes who have apologies made for them on a yearly basis) stand in front of reporters and personally own up to his mistake if he sincerely means that the opportunity to represent the Bulls and the city of Chicago on a global stage is a privilege that he doesn’t take lightly?

The NBA clearly wants its young players to be as mature as possible, as evidenced by the age limit on incoming players.

So it might be a good idea to stop infantilizing them once they are in the league.


And while we’re on the subject of extreme distaste and irritation, let’s pass the conch shell over to the Broken Cowboy, who’s got a potent rant on the topic of religion in sports. Take it away.

February 05, 2007

Colt Proves Mightier than Bear

A few brief Super Bowl-related thoughts as we attempt to reconstruct an army of chicken skeletons from the copious amounts of bones that were left lying around these parts after the game:

1) Rex Grossman’s line – 20/28, 165 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT’s – doesn’t properly reflect how awful he was. He couldn’t move the Bears down the field and his deep ball consistently looked like it was being blasted out of the air with an elephant gun. Granted, it was raining which didn’t help, but that still doesn’t forgive how many times Grossman underthrew his receivers.

Brian Griese should have been in that game in the third quarter. By that point it was obvious that “Bad Rex” had shown up (as he so often does), and regardless of whether or not the guy’s your QB of the future, if you’re Lovie Smith, you’ve got to give your team a shot to win the game. There was at least a chance Griese was going to give the Bears a spark. Not so with Grossman.

(Despite not saying one nice word about Grossman in these two paragraphs, it still feels like we let him off a little bit easy. That's how bad he was.)

2) Peyton Manning played a perfectly fine game (25/38, 247 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT), but was a lame pick for MVP. Sure, Peyton winning the MVP award would make for a great capper to his reasonably compelling tale of redemption – if it didn’t feel like the award was going to go to him no matter what if the Colts won.

Let’s face it – 247 yds and a TD pass is a rather pedestrian game for Manning, and Dominic Rhodes (21 rushes, 113 yds) picked up key yards all night, and scored the TD that put Indy up for good. But Dominic Rhodes winning MVP doesn’t quite make the same headlines, does it?

3) On the subject of commercials: Couldn’t help but notice (as I remarked to a friend) that there was a strong theme of violence running throughout many of the ads. Apparently I wasn’t the only person to notice this.

4) Hopefully you didn’t get up to do something else or change the channel to alternate programming during halftime, because then you would have missed undoubtedly one of the most spectacular moments of the evening – a giant silhouetted image of Prince holding his strange purple guitar in a position that made it look quite a bit like a phallus. Which could have perhaps come across as an accident… had he not done it approximately 7 times.

5) And on a non-Super Bowl related note, there's a video that you must see. If you’re a Deadspin reader you’ve likely already happened upon this, but for anyone who missed it, Wizards’ teammates Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson recently had a post-practice shooting contest in which Arenas shot 100 one-handed threes from college distance while Stevenson shot 100 from regular NBA distance.

And in case you had forgotten or didn’t truly appreciate it as much as you could, NBA players are really, really nasty shooters. We all know Gilbert can shoot, but seeing a player who has a reputation as a slasher like Stevenson wax j after j really makes you appreciate how amazingly skilled all of these guys are, even if the games aren’t always beautiful to behold.

Also, Gilbert Arenas does not look like a fun guy to compete against. The level of taunting he was laying on during Stevenson’s shooting was close to over the top, if not completely out of bounds. How D-Steve didn’t slap him is beyond me.

But even more infuriating (and considerably less comical) than Arenas taunting Stevenson was the harsh reminder that NBA players have a lot more money than we do. The stakes for this particular contest were 20,000 dollars. And when one of the two ultimately loses (I won't spoil it here because it's actually a little bit suspenseful), you get the feeling that he's far more pissed about his tainted pride than he is about his 20 g's.

And as happy as such a revelation should make us
– after all, we're always saying we want players to compete for love of the game beyond monetary reward – those of us who are scraping meat off leftover chicken bones for lunch today would like to think that losing 20k at least stings these guys just a little bit.

Because around these parts, the thought alone of such a loss is enough to induce vomiting.

Or perhaps that's just the foul stench of leftover chicken...

February 02, 2007

The Thrill of Victory

At the OCC staff meeting this morning, someone suggested that it might be nice on this Friday to take a brief diversion from sports and talk about another topic.

That individual was promptly fired.

However, we did take his suggestion into consideration (because frankly it was an excellent idea), and thusly we will seamlessly foray into a brief diversion on the topic of gambling. Specifically, slot machines. More specifically, something rather dubious that happened to a woman at an Oklahoma casino recently. And getting most specific, the fact that said woman was told by a video slot machine that she had won 1.3 million dollars, only to have the manager of said casino tell her that it was a malfunction.

I suppose from the casino’s vantage point you could make the case that this was a “malfunction” in the sense that they didn’t want it to happen (as is the case with all malfunctions), but other than that, this seems highly questionable.

I don’t know how they do things in Oklahoma, but where I come from, when you pull the lever on a slot machine and it says you win money, you get that money.

It’s almost as if the casino, like some pre-pubescent child in a game of freeze tag or tetherball, is trying to call for a do-over. Which is of course completely absurd.

Do they walk over to the blackjack tables when you get a 21 and tell you that your ace card was the result of a malfunctioning deck? No.

Does the pit boss walk up to the craps table after you've rolled seven 9's in a row, reaping untold fortunes for you and your friends, only to tell you that your wins are nullified because the dice are loaded? No. (Although in this case, the joke's on them, because your dice actually are loaded. You sneaky bastard.)

This is kind of like offering a friend one of your possessions that you don’t want anymore, and then when you see how much they like it, immediately demanding it back just to be a dick.

It’s like opening a soup kitchen to donate meals to the homeless, but when the homeless arrive to collect their meals, you say that they can’t have them.

In short, it’s just flat-out wrong. You know the saying “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas?” There’s also one that goes, “Whatever the slot machine says you won, the casino has to pay you.”

(And yes, I’m sure that there are all kinds of legal stipulations covering the casino’s ass on this one, but at some point you have to throw legal stipulations out the window and say, “Pay the money you owe, you dishonest pricks.”)

As bad as it is for someone to think they’ve won 1.3 million dollars and then be told they haven’t won a thing, you know what’s worse? When the institution that owes said person that money tries to compensate her with two complimentary buffet tickets.

Yes, this actually happened.

If you’ll permit one more soup kitchen-related analogy, that’s like opening up a soup kitchen to provide meals for the homeless, and when they come to get their meals, saying to them, “No, you actually can’t have a meal, but you can have this poop.” (Although the analogy gets a little bit tricky because in the case of the casino, food actually was being offered in the form of buffet tickets, but the analogy works because in comparison to 1.3 million dollars, buffet tickets are technically poop. It’s in the bylaws.)

It should be noted that the casino subsequently offered the violated patron (whose name is Diana Smith) a sum of $6,500 in a feeble attempt to placate her.

In case you’re wondering, we did the math to figure out the exact percentage of what $6,500 is in relation to $1.3 million, and we figured out that it comes out to… a very small percentage.

In sum:

1) Boo, casino.

2) Don’t tease the homeless.

3) To the aforementioned Ms. Smith: If you’re interested in suing these bastards to try to recoup some or all of your money, we happen to know an excellent attorney who specializes in this type of thing.

There will, of course, be a finder’s fee.

Shall we say, $6,500?

February 01, 2007

To Be Young Again

We here at The Off-Color Commentator are not particularly fond of the term “pet peeve.” In fact, we hate it. We think it makes the user sound like a lame and rather ineffectual little shrew of a person.

(Also, if something deeply bothers you, you shouldn’t call it your “pet.” That’s just stupid. Although some pets are admittedly very annoying.)

So instead of “That is totally a pet peeve of mine!”, we much prefer the simple yet timeless “You know what I hate?” Or if you’re looking for a little more flavor, there’s the always enjoyable yet somehow not overused “that really chaps my ass.”

And on the subject of things that chafe at our proverbial buttocks, consider the following commentary that took place during Denver’s game against the Blazers Wednesday night:

On one play where Blazers’ small forward Ime Udoka was guarding Carmelo Anthony, the Nuggets’ play-by-play man (Chris Marlowe) said,

"Udoka's on Carmelo, and Carmelo schools the youngster."

In case it's not immediately apparent, here’s why this is annoying: Ime Udoka is 29 years old. Carmelo Anthony is 22.

This happens seemingly all the time – announcers equate a player’s age to his experience in that particular league. So if someone’s inexperienced in the NBA (which Udoka is), then he’s automatically a “youngster” or a “kid” (another term they used to describe Udoka earlier in the game).

On the play in question, Carmelo did
indeed school Udoka. But he did not “school the youngster.” That’s just ridiculous. According to our research staff (after the recent house-cleaning of that department we have hired a small horde of chinchillas to handle all research-related matters), Ime Udoka is 2,485 days older than Carmelo Anthony. That’s six years, 294 days.

And trust us, 29 is old. Especially if you measure your age by the circles on your liver.

The worst thing about this, other than the fact that it’s blatantly inaccurate, is that it makes it look like the Nuggets broadcasters (or whatever other broadcasters are perpetrating this on-air sin on an almost daily basis) look like they know virtually nothing about the lesser-known players they’re paid to talk about.

The good news is that for those of us who would gouge out our pancreas with a rusty scythe just to get an audition for an on-air sports broadcasting gig, at least we can take solace in the fact that we’re often more knowledgeable than those people who are being paid to broadcast these events.

Which, come to think of it, is not the least bit comforting whatsoever.