Fourth Quarter Meltdown

Eternally Optimistic.

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J.J. Hickson (aka “J.J. Hustle”) An Overrated Rebounder? Trick Please.

jj hustle

For awhile there I thought I could just completely neglect this blog, never write anything again, and just do Skype podcasts because talking is just so much easier than writing.  I didn’t think that…not really.  But kind of.  Really, it’s that I’ve been busy polluting my mind with grown ass man thoughts like “WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?” and “YOU’RE GOING BALD YOU SHOULD JUST QUIT BEING A PUSSY, SHAVE YOUR HEAD AND ROCK THAT SHIT LIKE AN UGLIER VERSION OF A  ‘BIG-BONED’ JASON STATHAM.”  My birthday and the holidays do this to me.

But now that things are all settled down I refocused my attention on things that really grind my gears.  Take for example, this headline: “Neil Paine (of Basketball-Reference): Blazers F/C J.J. Hickson Tops List of ‘Overrated Rebounders’”.

I’m fairly certain that I’m on record as saying that hell will freeze over on the day that I defend J.J. Hickson.  Well then.  Those terrible motherfuckers burning away in eternal damnation better grab their mittens, because this shit’s about to go down.

Let me just get this out of the way: I like advanced stats.  Advanced stats helped usher us out of what I like to call the Ricky Davis era.  There’s a reason John Hollinger just got hired as the VP of Basketball Operations for the Memphis Grizzlies and there’s a reason Daryl Morey is one of the most respected GM’s in the league.  Advanced stats are good by me.

Pictured: This is Endo using his computer to talk about stats because stats are great and he loves stats.

Pictured: This is a live shot of Brian, aka Endo (the other half of the Ballin’ with Bozos crew), using his computer to talk about stats because stats are great and he loves stats.

But let’s look at what Paine had to say about Hickson:

Superficially speaking, Hickson appears to be one of the league’s best rebounders, averaging 10.8 boards per game (sixth-best in the NBA) with a 21.7 rebounding percentage (fourth-best). However, there’s plenty of evidence that many of those rebounds have simply been stolen from his teammates, not opponents. ..Despite Hickson’s gaudy individual stats, the Blazers have a negative net rebound rate with him in the lineup, and they actually rebound at a better rate when he’s not on the floor.

I think my head is going to explode.  Cool.

Herein lies my beef with this analysis.  We are completely overcomplicating an easily identifiable trait.  The guy can rebound.  That’s it.  It’s not like saying the guy can shoot (because he can take bad shots) or the guy can pass (because he can make bad decisions).  When a guy’s rebounding, he’s not gonna wait for somebody else to grab it.  He just freaking rebounds.  There’s no greater science to it – unless he’s literally bowling over teammates to grab rebounds to pad his stats, and if that were the case it would be plain to see for everyone watching.

Now, I know what the counterargument would be to my rant here.  It would be “Nobody ever said he’s a bad rebounder.”  True.  But the entire purpose of that column was to rile things up by identifying a cool thing, tainting it one way or another, then acting like it’s all good.  It’s like how I passive-aggressivley sneeze in people’s beers at bars.  Dude it was an ACCIDENT.  No HARM no FOUL.

I already know what J.J. Hickson is: an energy guy that will chase rebounds and do some fun things and he’s probably best served coming off the bench.  He’s playing out of his mind this year and somebody is gonna overpay him because it’s the NBA and that’s just what happens.  Truth is, I don’t expect J.J. to be on the Blazers next year, and therefore I’m not attached to him as a Blazer at all.

Why am I so mad about this, then?

Because this is the kind of shit that makes Reggie Miller believe he has some sort of credibility.  When the old dogs start saying stuff like “you know it when you see it” and try to discredit advanced stats-guru while signing a Qyntel Woods type for $20,000,000 they’ll point to things like this.  And that drives me NUTS.

Hi.  I'm David Kahn.  Gavin is talking about bad personnel moves, so I have no idea why he's inserting my picture here.  He can be very wacky that way.

Hi. I’m David Kahn. Gavin is talking about bad personnel moves, so I have no idea why he’s inserting my picture here. He can be very wacky that way.

That said, Neil Paine and I can still be friends.  He’s doing his damned job.  ESPN likes these kinda headlines and Paine has got to GET HIS, if you will.  He and the rest of the advanced stats dudes can run circles around me in regards to PER and all that stuff.  Keep up the good work.

(Important Note: See what I did there at the end?  I sneezed in his beer, so to speak.)


Breaking Bad: Spoiler Free Commentary for the Newbies & The Plight of Skyler White (No Newbies Allowed)

Breaking Bad. So hot right now.

Talking about the most recent episode of Breaking Bad in public is a big fucking no-no. It’s not that people don’t like the show. Most people actually love it. But there are still so many people in the world that haven’t caught up to this season, or they haven’t watched the last episode yet (because they DVR’d it and are saving multiple episodes so they can watch several in a row because every single time an episode ends the audience is more hooked than an Albuquerque meth head) that…holy shit. I lost my train of thought there. Breaking Bad does this to me.

Here’s the bottom line, amigos: I know that spoilers suck, especially with this show. I was on a flight from LAX to PDX and started vaguely discussing the show with the guy sitting next to me, and some dudes behind us had covered their ears and began scolding us for even talking about it…even though we were talking about Season 1 (and not giving away any plot points). Funny thing is, I didn’t even defend myself. I totally get where they’re coming from…then strongly encouraged them to catch up, and catch up quick. So, this should go without saying: I won’t be giving away plotlines or anything like that. I’m simply going to lay out my thoughts for three types of people:

1). Those who haven’t started watching the show yet;
2). Those who started, but haven’t continued because “it’s not for you”; and
3). Asking a question to my fellow viewers that are “in too deep”.

Now. While I won’t be giving away plotlines or spoiling shit for any of yous, I know for a fact there are some Frank Costanzas out there, who never want to hear anything about a show even if it gives absolutely nothing away. You know who you are.

So if that’s you, then fine, I won’t preach to you. You can stop reading after point #2…just as long as you promise me that you’ll watch all of Season 1. It’s imperative that you watch the entire season.

As for the rest of yous. Shall we?

#1: To those who haven’t started watching the show yet

What the funk is wrong with you? Unless you wanna miss out on an epic TV program and find out what happens in the series finale (ala “The Sopranos”) you’ve gotta get your head and your ass wired together and go in for the big win. Catch up so you can witness history with the rest of humanity. Seasons 1 through 4 are available on Netflix Instant, and the service is easy to use and costs like seven bucks a month. If you have Netflix Instant, it’s just sitting there waiting for you. If you don’t, you should just get it already. Remember the days when you had to go to your local Blockbuster and pay $4.99 for every DVD you rented? I watched the first season of Dexter using Blockbuster DVDs. Problem was they spread the season out over 3 or 4 discs and I ended up paying 20-something-dollars to find out what happened. Blockbuster then offered me this super awesome deal where I could “only” pay $35 a month to get unlimited videos. What a super deal right? Since I was broke ass man I didn’t bite. Well…I bit, then canceled it after finishing three seasons of Dexter because this is America and that’s my right. At the time, Netflix Instant didn’t have much of a selection, especially when it came to TV shows. But now…whoa. They’ve got some good stuff. And it still only costs a few bucks a month. If you have Dish Network, then you kinda have to sign up to catch AMC’s stuff, which has some of the best shows on TV along with Breaking Bad (which is the best, obvi). Oh, and by the way, fuck those fatcats at Dish Network. Oh…and for my 2nd BTW in a row, here’s a fun fact: AMC promptly posts their material on Netflix Instant (which charges $7 a month)…Dish Network owns Blockbuster (which has since dropped their fees since those $4.99 days, but in their best case scenario charges way more per view than Netflix Instant). Fun!

Excerpt from the article linked above. Thanks for dragging 14,000,000 people into your completely unjustified and off-base pissing match, Dish Network! You’re totes the best. For reals.

#2: To those who started and didn’t continue because “it’s not for you”

Look. I get it. I rented the first couple of episodes on DVD at Blockbuster a long while back (for $4.99…holla!). I too, didn’t think it was for me. But since my friends wouldn’t shut up about it, I gave it another go a few months later. Now I’m literally counting the days until this coming Sunday. My brother was the same way as I once was, and had little interest in continuing the show. When he told me he had made it through episode 5 of season 1, I told him: “Trust me. Watch episode 6,” and I said this without an ounce of sarcasm. Part of the beauty in Breaking Bad is that they don’t do the classic TV show thing, which is blow the audience’s collective mind early in the season (only to drag on and disappoint you later on). They establish a story line, establish the characters, and build up drama from there. Episodes 1 through 5 in Season 1 establish the foundation. Episode 6 punches you in the face with nothing but awesome. I made my brother watch that episode. He then plowed through all four seasons in a couple of weeks. There are only 7 episodes in Season 1. If you don’t like it at that point, then fine. Just drop it. My guess is you’ll continue on.

“Yo, just give Mr. White and me a chance…bitch.”
– Jesse Pinkman

#3: Asking a question to my fellow viewers that are “in too deep”(Skip this if you aren’t through Season 3)

I got into an animated discussion with a pal over beers while we floated in a lake in Arizona about Skyler White. He hates her. I don’t. The booze didn’t help the cordiality of this conversation. But don’t worry, we agreed to disagree, and buried the hatchet over shotgunning beers and exchanging hugs. I wouldn’t say this mentality towards Skyler is common but I’ve seen enough of a backlash against her (beginning in Season 3) that it makes me wonder. Why in the hell is she the one to get hated on? I won’t give much away, but if you haven’t made it through Season 3 I’d suggest skipping the rest of this paragraph just in case your inner Frank Costanza busts out. So if I have this right: the main premise of the show is Walt’s deterioration as a human being, and how he’s basically losing his soul. Skyler isn’t good, per se, but her reactions towards him are at least somewhat understandable given the shit-show of a world Walt has dragged their family in to. I’m entirely caught up on the show and let me point out the obvious: Walter White from the Pilot Episode is not the same guy as the Walter White from Episode 6 of Season 5. Any argument that he is still “doing what he’s doing for his family” is bullshit. That argument went out the window during the episodes available on Netflix Instant. If he’s not the same guy, then why would she treat him the same way? Sure, she’s to blame for some of it as well, and she made bad decisions along the way. But Walt’s decision-making and ego has put them where they are today. By saying this, perhaps I’m violating the age-old “Bros Before Hoes” mantra. Feel free to diss me and tell me that I am. Just be prepped for a dramatic debate (sans spoilers out of respect for the bozos that haven’t yet caught up). But it should also be said, in the most recent Rolling Stone, Vince Gilligan (show creator) and Aaron Paul (who plays Jesse) praise Bryan Cranston’s performance as Walt because he has somehow convinced the show’s followers to root for him. Gilligan compares it to Stockholm Syndrome. Important note: if you’re avoiding spoilers from Seasons 1 through 4, DON’T READ THE NEWEST ROLLING STONE.

So there you have it. My very best attempt at championing the brilliance of Breaking Bad without giving away plotlines. I haven’t been so vague in describing something since my first Podcast with Brother Gage. Feel free to take a listen to that if you have absolutely no life and want to waste 43 minutes of your day (this is not a self-deprecating comment – I’m dead fucking serious).

Talk to you soon, amigos. I’m out.

Tough Guy vs. Tough Guy: A Valiant Blogger Tells Raymond Felton How It Is

The veteran leadership and sage advice of Raymond Felton will be sorely missed in the Blazers locker room.

Pre-note: I LOL’d mightily at this meme when I stumbled across it.  Got it from this young man, who blogs for Blazersedge: . 

Oh hey guys! 

Say…is it my birthday?  Nope, but it may as well be.  Raymond Felton has made his way back into the Portland news cycle with this gem of a quote:

“I’m a free agent so maybe those bloggers and those people who write won’t have to see me again. Maybe they won’t, until I’m coming in on the other end and droppin’ 50 on ’em. We’ll see what happens. Who knows. Still no bad taste in my mouth with Portland. I still got a lot of great relationships there with the owner, management and as well some of the players. Who knows what might happen. I still might go back there. We’ll see what happens.”

He’s talking about me.  I just know it.

So why am I so giddy about this?  Because it’s funny.  He’s an ornery, underachieving point guard that refuses to look in the mirror and realize maybe, just maybe, the issue isn’t everyone else.  At this point his chest-puffing bullshit only elicits the following reaction from me: “Tee-Hee!  :)” (emphasis on smiley icon).

Now, it must be noted: Chunk’s Revenge is by no means a blog that sits here judging the quality of work by any professional.  Whether that’s a mechanic, painter, basketball player, or marginally employed blogger, we don’t judge.  Not here, bozos.  Everyone has bad days, weeks, or even years.  So Raymond: you had a shitty season.  But you’re a grown man.  I won’t judge you for that. 

Thanks for understanding!  I like you Chunk’s Revenge.


“Don’t you dare white boy.”

What’s your deal man?  For a Blazer to faceplant this badly in Portland in such a short time is mind boggling.  People around here still talk about re-signing Jeff Pendergraph.  And about how great Juwan Howard was for the locker room.  Dude…Dante Cunningham still gets rousing ovations when he returns to Portland.  We’re overly supportive.  We dislike nobody.  So…WTF?  How did this happen?  Let’s examine:

Observation #1: Everyone has bad days.  Not everyone acts a foo’ while they do it.

Ray – I immediately liked you for two reasons: your pedigree as a national champion at UNC and because we are exactly the same size.  Six Foot One, Two Hundred and Five Pounds (wink, wink…I know how it is, baby boy).  But that junk in your trunk reared its ugly head pretty quickly.  Believe me…I sympathize.  Then again, I’m not a professional athlete.  The thing is, you didn’t appear to lose a pound during the season.  Whatever.  But, you also made some very bad plays.  Around here, you can make boneheaded plays and still not have the crowd dislike you.  In the last four years we’ve rooted for Sergio Rodriguez, Patty Mills, and Armon Johnson.  When they blew it, this was our reaction:

You though, didn’t help us out in offering out that response.  Why?  Because you acted a foo’, and played the role of a victim. 

Observation #2: I’m trying my hardest!  Trust me!  I’ll be good soon!  For reals!

Dude, come on.  You’re a grown man.  When you got picked up by the Blazers the word was they’d be a fast break team.  And holy shit man…I spotted Nate Freaking McMillan yelling at you more than once to push the pace.  Mr. Slow and Steady Nate Fucking McMillan.  But you didn’t push, you slowed it down.  My hunch?  You couldn’t do it because you were out of shape, Nate called you out, you got fussy, then you sulked and blamed all of your struggles on a coach that was trying to push you.  I have a good source (aka, my hunch) that the tipping point was when you complained about “doing your best”, then Nate hit you with this line:

Then you got pissed.  Then you acted like a cancer in the locker room and got him fired.

Observation #3: Care.  Just a little bit.

I remember early in the season, when things started going bad, Jason Quick started getting on your case about “not being Andre Miller”.  Fun fact: Quick didn’t like Miller during his first few months in Portland.  Not that he hated him…just thought he didn’t “fit in to the team”.  It took him some time to like him.  Why did Andre win him over, you might ask?  Because Dre didn’t give two shits about what Jason Quick said about him.  He took the early struggles of adapting to a new team and played the game.  He didn’t bitch and moan about “bloggers” being jerks, or shun reporters that gave him guff.  The only time any inkling of frustration came out was when he and Nate got into a shouting match behind closed doors, which was overheard by the media. 

You see, Andre won over the media and the crowd because he cared about winning, and made his teammates better.  He didn’t sulk on court or make gawd-awful plays.  Not saying you did, but…you did. 

“Gaww! Come on coach! Why won’t you trust me??? Just let me get this…I GOT this!” (dribbles ball off his foot as he’s yelling).

I’m half tempted to give you an out because you probably got that Seasonal Affective Disorder.  It’s no picnic, that disorder.  But sweet Jesus, meng.  Don’t expect sympathy when you’re making $8 Million a year and brought in to be the next big PG.   

Observation #4: At some point, you have to recognize that it’s not everyone around you, but maybe it’s just you.

This relationship wasn’t going to work out.  So, just swallow your pride and acknowledge that.  You seem more intent on doing this:

Final Observation:

Thanks for nothing you big bozo.  Wherever you land next just realize that you get to play ball for a living.  If you play poorly, that’s fine.  Just don’t expect sympathy for it when you use Blazersedge columnists as motivators.  The only way to make them eat crow is by “dropping 50” when you were still playing for their team.

As for your next trip to PDX?  You’ll pull a 14-4-3 statline for the Brooklyn Nets, you’ll lose, and I’ll invite you to Sassy’s, where I’ll hound you about following me on Twitter (you’ll oblige when we bury the hatchet during a latenight grubfest and “airing of grievances” over RoboTaco).

When Wankstas Collide

So…just to make sure I have this right:

Chris Brown and Drake were involved in a bar brawl.  Both are now considered “rappers” (either I’m out of the loop or the rap game is going to hell).  So, this constitutes a rap beef.  Which begs the question: what the f*ck has happened to rap beefs?

It used to be when self-made men with established street credibility let their egos collide and began beefing with their fellow rappers in a battle for supremacy.  Now, apparently, it’s when two wankstas in a desperate effort to garner their own street credibility act a foo’ in public places; ruining the very douchey practice of ordering bottle service. 

Fed up with the 800% markup prices, Drake and Brown rebelled against the institution of “bottle service”, throwing $300 bottles of Smirnoff to and fro. They figured if they improved upon their street cred in the process, that would just be gravy.

Because we all know who these guys are, I’m not gonna waste any time explaining what they do (make shitty music) and who they are (studio-gangsta goobers).  On top of all of this, there is no freaking way we can sort through what actually happened.  This is no legal blog, amigos.  It’s a man’s man blog.  We talk about manly things, like child prodigies turned R&B pop superstars turned wannabe-tough guy rappers.  

For Monday afternoon funsies, let’s just assess the fallout, shall we?

Fallout Item #1: Take My Eyes, But Don’t Take My Bottle Service

I alluded to this earlier, but NYC club owners threw together an emergency meeting to discuss the practice (and possible end) of bottle service.  (Note: That sound you’re hearing?  It’s every yuppie socialite in Manhattan shrieking like banshees over the very suggestion that they won’t be able to pop their collars and order bottle service for their weekly Wednesday night “hump day” celebration).  For all of those that are hoping that “cooler heads will prevail”, thus restoring the sanctity of bottle service, there may be a wrench thrown into the equation.  It comes in the form of a quote from Meek Mill, a rapper acquaintance of Drake who stated, “Things just happen in the club.  I seen girls in there throwing bottles, all types of shit.  All types of people.” 

Hey!  Meek Mill!  SHHHHH!  If you blame bottle service then it can be taken away from everyone!  With that gone, how will the douchebags really cool guys of the world pretend to be high rollers??? 

(Video below: Scott Disick’s future reaction if bottle service is discontinued)

Fallout Item #2: Drake Blatantly Choosing to Not Keep It Real

The rap beefs of yesteryear usually entailed a successful rapper ignoring his sudden wealth and fame in order to keep it real with the people that stood by him when he was nothing.  He’d then surround himself with old confidants with suspect pasts, which at times could cause issues.  But Drake…Drake has very much sold out his former crew.  The former cast of Degrasi: The Next Generation weeps for what once was, sir.  You have forgotten where you came from, only rather than abandoning bad eggs and “hangers on” when you found success, you have added them and ditched your friends from a tweener drama in Canada (not familiar with Degrasi?  Think “Boy Meets World”.  He was the star of a show like “Boy Meets World” when he was a kid). 

Note: do I care that he doesn’t seem to associate himself with Degrasi alums?  Nope.  Did I feel the need to point out that this supposed tough guy was once the star of a stupid tweener sitcom/drama?  Yep.

Fallout Item #3: Chris Brown’s Street Cred…So Hot Right Now

Chris Brown had a little incident a few years back (but don’t ask him about it okay?  He blacked out, he can’t remember it happening) after which he lost his sponsorship with Double Mint gum.  Most would be devastated by the news, and would run into hiding.  But not good ol’ Chris Brown.  He just redefined himself as a rapper, started being more outwardly offensive (no need to worry about having your instagram username be politically correct when you don’t have to worry about pleasing those yahoo’s at Double Mint headquarters!), and worked on his street cred.  Between beating up his girlfriend, ripping up his dressing room at the Good Morning America, and now being involved in a fight with Jimmy from Degrassi High, the guy is the next 50 Cent.  So much street cred right now.

Fallout Item #4: My Credibility

OMFG guys…I’m so sorry.  Allow me a mea culpa in publishing Fallout Item #2 too early.  I didn’t realize that Drake had so much street cred.  He said some very tough things at a concert on Friday night.  Observe:

“You were having a good night so far, you done had a couple drinks, you done met a couple thangs, and then the ni**** in the corner start looking at you funny and you feel a motherfu**in’ way about it.  And then somebody going to the bathroom bumps you with their elbow and you like, ‘What the f**k?’ At that time in my life, there’s really only one ni**** that I wanna hear.”

This is obviously a case of me speaking too soon.  I don’t know him.  So who am I to judge that he’s playing the part of a studio gangsta now?  Perhaps, my friends, after a childhood in which he grew up in an affluent suburb of Toronto and starred in a Disney-esque tweener sitcom/drama, he is finally, finally getting the opportunity to “keep it real”.

I guess, at the end of the day, my point is this.  This is the single most pathetic and annoying rap beef of all time.  Thanks a lot for that you bozos.

“Eh”: The Emphatic Response Upon Hearing of the Blazers Newest GM

Qualifications: a). Good at dealing with difficult people, b). Shows ability to hob-knob with dickhead elitist owners, c). Considered to be a “wheeler and dealer”, d). Graduate of Handsome Boy Modeling School. Am I describing the banished-from-Portland Kevin Pritchard? Yes. But the same can also be said for my new BFF, Blazers GM Neil Olshey.

I’ve been out of pocket for several days, amigos.  I was on a trip ripe with 100 degree weather, terrible wakeboarding tricks, and overindulgence.  I return to the world farmer tanned, feeling like a slug from days of feasting on BBQ and beer, and completely out of the loop in all that is going on in the world.  The sporting world always seems to have some major shift while I’m gone.  This time, the Conference Finals are were suddenly tied in the East and West, but more importantly for Blazers fans, there was some bigger news: The Portland Trail Blazers hired a real life General Manager for the first time in over a year. 

The man for the job: Mr. Neil Olshey, formerly of the Los Angeles Clippers

News of his hiring was met by a resounding “eh” by yours truly. 

The jury is still out on Olshey as a GM in general.  There will be plenty of time to nitpick the details, starting with this month’s NBA Draft.  That said, I’m feeling like a bit of a hater this evening, so join me as I rid myself of a weekend hangover by sipping on a vast amount of Haterade, countering the positives listed for his hiring.  What right do I have in doing this?  None.  But we live in America, pals.  So off-base opinion pieces from unqualified blogs are just a part of the culture.  Try to mute my voice, and this is what you’ll get.

Shall we?

Haterade Observation #1:

Yes.  The guy put the dramatic final touch on morphing the Clippers into Lob City by acquiring Chris Paul.  Regardless of the circumstance, kudos should be given, and rightfully so.  That said, the circumstances surrounding that situation were that of a “once in a lifetime” variety: a league-owned club on the brink of losing their lone superstar for nothing while they were desperately trying to sell the team.  They had to trade him.  And they couldn’t just dump him to any old team.  With a player option for this coming season, he had to agree to opt-in for year two in order to make a deal work.  Point being, superstars are rarely available in trade discussions.  No team in their right mind would trade them unless it was an absolute necessity.  You may find yourself asking, “But what if they are?  Shouldn’t there be a savvy GM at the helm who has a track record of pulling it off?”

Haterade Observation #2:

As frustrating as it can be to the sporting purists out there, many elite superstars have figured out a brilliant marketing maneuver: cross sell the bajeezus outta themselves and turn their names into a brand.  Behind this is a Hollywood agency called CAA (Creative Artists Agency).  Think like this: Ari Gold decides that he wants to broaden his clientele from just actors/musicians and move into the sporting landscape.  This is the kinda shit they’re selling:

Cheesball?  Yep.  Effective?  Apparently.  Just look at what LeBron James is doing.  His entire focus isn’t to drive shoe sales for Nike.  It’s also to drive traffic to his Twitter feed, Facebook page, and most importantly his own website (which actually makes him pretty freaking smart…but that’s a story for another time).  When he gets enough hits he becomes an effective marketing tool for advertisers.  For example, have you noticed a lot of celebs, athletes, and even sports writers opening up Facebook fan pages?  That’s not just to be interactive.  They can attract advertising dollars by having a bigger social media footprint.  The more “likes”/subscribers the more attractive they are, and the more money they can potentially make.  It’s all about opening multiple avenues of income, amigos.  It’s brilliant, actually.  I know this because if I had more than 59 Twitter followers I would try to do the exact same thing. 

So what’s that have to do with CP3 going to the Clippers?  Simple.  He went to Los Angeles.  Brands are built with exposure, and by being in one of the largest media markets he has a better chance at promoting his brand there, than say, in Houston.  A bigger populace, more television exposure, and more highlight reels by teaming with Blake Griffin.  The Lakers trade would have been ideal, but if that wasn’t happening then another Los Angeles franchise would still do the trick.  Just so long as the parts were in place to garner more exposure. 

 As a fan of a small market team I want to say that new world media makes it so big markets shouldn’t matter as much.  But the truth is it does.  Getting a city like Los Angeles into a frenzy is more attractive to ESPN producers than watching Portlanders unbutton their flannels and partying with their pants off.  It’s not fair, per se, but it’s the truth.  The big cities get more coverage because they’re…big.  “Big” drives viewership.  Viewership drives exposure.  Exposure drives that internet money.

By demanding that he get some of that internet money, Stephen Abootman proved to be quite the forward thinker.

Full circle: what does this have to do with Olshey?  One of the “positives” in his hiring is his relationship with CAA’s Leon Rose, which in theory, should pay dividends when big names are looking to land elsewhere.  Maybe he’ll break the mold with his move to Portland.  But I’m skeptical.  Unless superstars are jonesin’ for a guest spot on Portlandia.

Haterade Observation #3:

The blueprint in succeeding as a small market franchise is building through the draft, maximizing each pick available.  Everyone points to the Spurs and Thunder, and there’s one thing you’ll notice when perusing their rosters.  Their cornerstones were drafted by the teams they play for now.  Every team will have trades along the way, but the Spurs didn’t trade for Tony Parker or Manu Ginobli.  That was just some good drafting by the Spurs brass.  As a small market team, you need to know what you are.  The splashes that are made in the trade and free agent markets are important, but certainly not earth shattering by any stretch of the imagination.  You can’t believe that swinging for the fences and landing an elite talent will fall into your lap. 

So knowing that, what is Olshey’s track record in the draft game?  There isn’t much to work off of, as he took over in 2010.  That year he selected Al-Farouq Aminu and traded a future first-rounder for Eric Bledsoe.  Not bad at all, considering Aminu was included in the CP3 trade and Bledsoe has some promise.  But in 2011 they had no first rounder.  Olshey traded for Jamario Moon/Mo Williams in exchange for Baron Davis and an unprotected 2011 first rounder…which ended up being the #1 overall pick.  Translation: he traded Baron Davis and the #1 overall pick for Jamario Moon and Mo Fucking Williams.  This made the Clippers the second most popular NBA franchise in Cleveland last year.

It’s worth pointing out, that one of the finalists for the Blazers GM job was David Morway, the GM for the Pacers.  That’s another small market team, that just so happened to rebuild their franchise from scratch through the draft, and nearly all of the players were selected outside the Lottery.  But I digress.  What would he know about building a competitor out of a small market team?

Haterade Observation #4:

Rumor has it that Larry Miller, the Prez of the Blazers and alleged “basketball man” was pushing internally for Morway.  Paul Allen’s BFF, Bert Kolde, was a staunch supporter of Olshey.  The talking heads at Vulcan Inc. from Seattle won out.  This isn’t a good thing. 

So Neil, you seem like a nice enough guy.  I’m a diehard fan of the Blazers and am now in a position in which I have to trust you, and I will comply.  But I beg of you, don’t just settle for that half-assed backhand compliment I just offered.  Smack that Haterade outta my hand and punch me in the face.  Beat the hell outta me and yell things like “How you like them apples!” by way of being savvy and brilliant.  A bruised ego would be a small price to pay if my ranting and raving is completely off-base.

Finally, Thoughts on the Greg Oden Era (Because I Like to Torture Myself)

As to be expected in Portland, several thousand Blazers fans skipped school and work on June 29th, 2007 to join in the festivities welcoming Greg Oden to Rip City. Priorities are a wee-bit different around here, as this is the city where young people go to retire.

In sports, I’m a sucker for two things: an underdog story and a redemption story. I’m drawn to those that are down on their luck or those clawing their way back onto their feet when they fall. If I have a rooting interest in the team that the underdog or redemption-seeker is on, then just forget it. The sentiment just increases tenfold. Sometimes it works out. But sometimes life’s a bitch, and there just isn’t any justice when it comes to my wishful thinking. Which brings us to the purpose of this post, which is a long time coming: Mr. Greg Oden.

You see, amigos, I’m a big Portland Trail Blazers fan. When the Blazers landed the #1 pick I can tell you where I was (at work in the San Fernando Valley, at the end of the day), how I found out about the Lottery win (I went onto to see if they stayed at #7 to land Thaddeus Young), what I did when I realized they had landed the #1 pick (yelped in disbelief, leapt from my seat, and told my boss I was leaving early), and what I did the rest of the evening (called everyone I knew from back home, and yapped on the phone for no less than three straight hours).

That was a good day. I’ll just remember it as such.

At this point we all know how the rest played out. Everyone says it was Bowie 2.0. Nope. When Bowie wasn’t panning out, the Blazers traded him to New Jersey for a Power Forward named Buck Williams…who only became one of the most beloved players in Portland’s franchise history. Oden got waived to make room for Shawne Williams after the Gerald Wallace trade. Sweet Jesus, that’s a depressing start to this post. But (spoiler alert!) if Oden comes back I will root for a redemption, a comeback story, a colossal F-YOU to his naysayers – but only if he signs with any team other than the Heat. The Heat don’t provide the karmic retribution you’re seeking Greg! Don’t fall into the temptation!

Greetings, Gregory. I promise you fame and fortune. But more importantly, I promise you vengeance upon all those who doubted you. Join ME, Darth Wade, Darth James, and Darth Bosh. I will give you one year minimum contract. You’re welcome. Sincerely, Pat Riley

What this whole weblog is really about is a delayed response to a piece by Mark Titus. It was, I must say, legit. Very well done, indeed. That said, there are a couple of clarifications that must be addressed. Let’s address them in bullet format shall we? (Note: when I speak of Greg Oden, I will refer to him on a first name basis, because that’s just how Blazers fans do things…or at least that’s how my mom does it. And she is was a season ticket holder. So there.)

1). Mark Titus (who earned infinity cool points for his Club Trillion blog while at Ohio State, and for his Rainmaker YouTube video) did the radio interview circuit after his story got posted. The feedback he received was that everyone liked it, except for Portland fans who are bitter. I’m sure he knows this, but bozos that tweet garbage at journalists, or athletes, or any celeb, don’t represent an entire fanbase. As someone that was in Portland when his article got published and spoke to many diehard Blazers fans, the responses I got were the following:
a). “That guy (Greg) can’t catch a break.”
b). Sit in silence, shake head depressingly.
Any implication that Portland fans are bitter is completely accurate. But not towards Greg. We’re all just pissed at that nasty little bitch we call FATE.

2). Not sure if this needs clarification, as Titus never mentioned the fans in this little tidbit, but whatever. I’m gonna do it anyways. As a fanbase that dissects every monotonous detail about the franchise, their management, their players and everything in between – to think that we haven’t considered the quality of the training staff is absurd. The thought has floated around for quite some time. Since Greg’s downfall and Brandon Roy needing to retire at 26, the thought still lingers but with the stench of a silent gasser laid by a drunken old man who just feasted on a deviled egg buffet.

Greg: I think I know the problem. Your knees aren’t healing quickly enough because they’re weak. They’re brittle. My suggestion: smash a hammer on them before you do any exercise. It will toughen them up. Also, take up smoking. It will curb your appetite during rehabilitation.

3). And here’s the quote from Titus’ piece that flabbergasted many. Greg’s quote about Portland not being an ideal spot “for a young African American man with money”. Many folks seemed confused by this statement. Titus, when asked about it during radio interviews, said that he was confused as well. He asked Greg to elaborate, to which he replied, “I’ll just leave it at that.” I won’t try to decipher his statement, but let’s just point out some facts:
a). Portland is a progressive and eclectic city. It’s also very white. The mention of this may cause my fellow whiteys to get fidgety and/or ornery. But if you’re a minority and coming to a city with little diversity (as nice and free and accepting as they may be) it would be understandable if it caused some discomfort if it’s not something you’re used to. That said, I will pontificate on one matter. I think Greg was overcomplicating the reason for it being a tough place to be. The simplest answer: PORTLAND IS A TOUGH PLACE TO BE IF YOU’RE EXPECTED TO BE A FRANCHISE SAVIOR BEFORE YOU EVER PLAYED A GAME, AND YOU ARE THE MOST RECOGNIZABLE GUY IN THE STATE.
b). Portland’s fans, they’re great (obvi, because I’m one of them). But we overanalyze everything, we know way too much about all of our players, we overhype them, and even as grown ass men we buy their jerseys. So it’s easy to guess that we recognize them when they’re out in public, and we consider them one of our own. If Travis Outlaw were approached in the streets, guess what would happen to a 7 footer who also happened to be the best big man prospect since Lew Alcindor? No matter what, there was never a place to hide. If things were going well, that would be one thing. But with injuries and disappointments, that’s another. It’s not that people were mean to Greg. They were probably annoyingly supportive, and their “encouragement” often had a pressure-filled undertone. Nobody wanted him to be the next Sam Bowie. They wanted him to be the next Bill Russell. My assumption is that no matter how nice they tried to be, that desperation would show through in the tone of their voices, or how they ended conversations (my favorite conversation ender, as told by a friend that overheard this at a bar one night after an unknown fan offered some unsolicited advice: “Don’t let us down”). When he got hurt, the burdensome history of the franchise fell on his ability to recover. And when there’s just one professional team in town…good luck trying to escape that talk.
c). Finally, Portland’s media, they’re awesome. They dig deep for a story, they get a good gauge on the mood of the team, have terrific insight, all that stuff. But they are also batshit freaking crazy, especially with the Blazers. Introverted Down On His Luck Franchise Savior + Batshit Crazy Reporters = Not A Good Combo. For goodness sake, Greg had to do a rush hour radio interview about his cockshot the day it was leaked. A beat reporter did a “behind the scenes” piece that referenced Greg taking a dump. Good God, man. Are no things sacred? I get what these guys are trying to do: connect a small community with their team, but these would be embarrassing moments for an extrovert.

We don’t really need to use the toilet. We just heard that Greg Oden is in there. It’s okay, we’re reporters. We have credentials and everything. We have a right to be here.

My point is, Portland isn’t a bad place to be. It’s just different. And if a once in a generation super-talent is struggling and seeking privacy, it would be hard to get that around here. It’s not because you’re young and African American and rich. It’s because you were our Russell. And when the wheels started coming off, everyone started panicking or moping or talking about Sam Bowie, which probably didn’t help.

Alas, it didn’t work out in Portland, Greg. I wouldn’t blame you if you never came back, but someday I hope you do. Maybe our franchise is run by jackasses (duh). Maybe the trainers only read Encyclopedias from the 1950’s, and don’t have internet access. Maybe the team, the reporters, the overwhelming high expectations of the city were overbearing. I don’t know. But the fans always liked you and rooted for you, whether you were hurt or not. And based on the conversations I’ve had around town, that sentiment will remain the same when you land on a new team.

So as a Blazers fan, I mean this. Go get healthy. If your health allows, sign with another team. Be a contributor. Define your own legacy. Go to the Suns or Pacers or whatever place gives you the best chance to succeed. But please. For the love of God. Don’t sign with the Heat.

So what? This pic was taken while he was at Ohio State. But this proves one thing: he’ll always look best in red and white (that’s my stretch to say he’ll always look best in a Blazers uni, you big condescending jerks!)

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