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Preview: Truth in a Bullet Fedora

Truth in a Bullet Fedora

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Bay Area Sports, USC Sports, Television, Movies, and everything else you already know...only with more Krolik.

Updated: 2015-10-03T17:02:19.957-07:00


I'm Everywhere, except on my site


Unfortunately, we're at the point where it's getting near the time to make decisions about the future of TBF-I just don't have a whole lot of thoughts worth writing that don't fit on SportsHub, FD, or MVN, and the thought of putting the energy back into writing stuff good enough to get on TrueHoop so that I could build up enough of an audience to allow my random thoughts to be seen is a sketchy one. If you're reading this, you probably know me personally. However, it's only takes about five minutes to put up links to the last things I've written, so I'll do that.

New FreeDarko

New SportsHub

It's nice to have a site in your college's colors that people come to to read only your writing, and I love the title "Truth In A Bullet Fedora." It's nice to be able to post anything at anytime and have a self-selected audience. However, it's also really nice to work for a site with thousands of daily hits and another one with a boss with actual media connections, and I have to decide which is easier. This site will probably just become links to stuff with about a paragraph extra, which is what it's been for a while now. I'm still working hard, so hopefully you'll continue to read me here and elsewhere.

Huzzah! More Crap!


-Most importantly, New FreeDarko up. Enjoy.

-Also, here's a SportsHubLA post I was too lazy to link to when it got published. It's an unremarkable game recap, except that I was able to sneak in a link to a clip from Clone High. I believe that this is the pinnacle of my brief career.

-Quick notes: Kelly Dwyer isn't at Yahoo! anymore? What the fuck? He could not have been doing a better job for them-he was posting constantly, providing great analysis (I think KD watches more basketball than anyone on the planet), and was routinely hilarious, particularly with his "shocking dialogues," which were to NBA junkies what an Apatow script is to pop-culture junkies. Hopefully he's working on a book or something.

-Also, read this post and this post by Shoals, especially regarding his name. My boss is awesome. Oh, and while you're on FreeDarko, check out Ziller's graphs. They're awesome.

-Oh, and here's an MVN post.

New Links and New Lost


First off, here's a new MVN post, and here's the Laker-centric version of my mid-season awards.

Now, some bonus thoughts about the Lost season premiere!

Past season premiers of Lost have raised more questions then they've answered, but created a sense of awe that made up for it-witness last season's premiere, where we got a shot of a suburban community and then saw that it was Actually on the Island!

However, as the show's writers had chosen to do that with last season's crazy twist finale, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that this premiere chose to give us some ideas about what was going on instead of blow our minds.

This was the first premiere when we didn't get a Jack "flashback" (again, they did that in last year's finale), although he was, again, the first person we saw in a flashback/flash-forward.

Anyways, we can now put some things together:

-First and most importantly, only 6 people left the island, leaving Hurley and Jack with extreme guilt, which they deal with by going insane; Jack goes old-school self loathing and immerses himself in alcohol and facial hair while Hurley actually goes back to the mental hospital. So far, all three characters have dealt with their feelings of guilt as we'd have expected them to-Jack gets proactive and tries to fix everything himself by flying back and forth over the island and becomes increasingly despondent as he realizes he can't fix the problem, Hurley retreats back into safety and comfort, and Kate changes her appearance and runs away from her guilt. This new revelation also helps to square Jack's flash-forward from last season with his status as a hero; while certain aspects of his character, particularly the ones from his flashback during last season's premiere, would have suggested that his misery was due to his obsessive nature and he was obsessed with returning to the island, where he was king, just like he was obsessed with the idea of returning to his wife, it now looks like Jack is miserable because he's a hero after all and is racked with guilt over abandoning 31 people on the island.

-While Jack is starting to look like a hero again, Sawyer moved back to being a bad guy, leaving Kate behind in order to go with Locke and self-preservation. As one of the main reasons that most of us (well, me, anyways) have come to see Sawyer as the show's true hero is because of his deeply-hidden romantic nature and the fact that he really does love Kate deep down, I was not a big fan of this call-it sets up a Jack-Sawyer-Kate triangle again and keeps the "big four" balanced between the two teams, and may ultimately mean that the show's two main male leads end up balanced between being on and off the island, (although if Sawyer isn't the "he" Kate referred to in the finale last year, who would it be? My dark-horse call would be that she got pregnant with Sawyer's kid, just like Cassie, although for him to be old enough to "wonder where someone is," he'd have to be at least two or three, and even that's a little young to be left home alone, and years seems like too much time to me.) it reflected horribly on Sawyer's character, and Sawyer's slow-burn emergence as a hero on the show is one of the best things about Lost. (Although the move was set up in flashback when Sawyer had to give up the mother of his child in order to bail himself out of debt, I still didn't like it.)

-It looks like we'll find out what the guys on the boat really want next week. I'm excited.

Who likes words?


It's officially the NBA midseason mark, which meant that I got to make an "awards" column where I could dump all my thoughts about the season so far, which is always a lot of fun. Also, I was able to essentially write one column and put it on two websites, which is always a plus. The Cavs-centric awards column is up here, with the Laker-centric one awaiting clearance from the heavens. Seriously, I really like these posts-you get a FD-esque ode to the greatness of Baron Davis to a statistics-driven vitrolic rant on Kevin Durant. Go. Click the link. Do it. You might even get a post on TV or football if you do.

Yet More Goodness.


New FreeDarko post for all of you to enjoy. Also, I hope you liked that Fischer piece but would like some feedback on it, so forward it to your friends, hype it up, do something, because I worked really hard on that post and want it to be seen.

The aformentioned uber-post is up


It's on the Last Page at MVN- here da link. It's long, rambling, and a little crazy, and deals with one of my pet theories/opinions, but I think it could be the best post I've ever done. Then again, I thought that Gatsby piece was good too, and Woody Allen thinks his best movie was Stardust Memories, which sucks. Anyways, read it and say nice things about it.

I'm Back!



New Post on SportsHub!

Sorry for the absence, folks. I had weird shit going on from all angles. Thanks for sticking around. Anyways, that post is just the tip O' the iceberg-I've found my swagger again and have an MVN post that should be up tomorrow, a FreeDarko post that's in development hell, and a Magnum Opus post that I finished tonight and am trying to find distribution for. All I'll say about it now is:

-It illustrates one of my favorite theses/themes

-It's 3,000 words long

-It mainly deals with boxing and chess

-The conclusion sucks right now, but I'm going to try to fix it

Are you excited? I am. In the meantime, try and figure out if Silversun Pickups stole their bass line from the Breeders. Also, revel in how awesome the Breeders are. This song was worth 5 hours of the 100 greatest songs of the 90s (which could be its own 3,000 word post.) If my idea for a TV show ever comes true, this is totally going to be the theme song.

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Also, have a Fiona Apple song. Again, thank you '90s, although this one wasn't on the countdown.
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I'm still here


My SiteMeter says that around 30 of you guys are still here-thanks a ton. Just to explain what's been going on, my Christmas break turned into an illness break-I've been completely out of commission for the last week and a half. New FD draft is in the works, and I've been able to see some Warrior games that I'll have thoughts for soon enough. Again, very sorry for the lack of production and thanks if you've stuck around long enough to read this.

I Am Now a Multimedia Personality


Hey, I was on my boss at SportsHub LA's internet radio show today. Instead of having me tell you about it, here's the link. Scroll down on the right and you'll find the applet.

I suppose it's my duty to put this up


Here's a link to the Basketball Jones' podcast prominently featuring The Fedora. I feel offended I was mentioned at no point during the coverage of this story. Guess I haven't made it yet. Oh, and new post is up on FreeDarko. Go check it out. CHRISTMAS BREAK!

Slightly Less Crappy than bullets, but not the quality of a real column!


Update: Two new posts I actually like up on MVN. There's a happy one and a sad one. Go forth boldly.

Is anyone else perplexed by the fact that LeBron is a truly horrible dresser? It's odd for two reasons; first of all, I assume, like everyone else, that Nike is more or less running LeBron's public life like the mafia ran Tom Cruise's life in The Firm, so I can't figure out why there wasn't a Gulfstream flying from Oregon to Cleveland the first time LeBron came to the sidelines in jeans and a test pattern.

Second, LeBron makes no bones about MJ being his idol, and seems to be on board with Nike's plan of modeling his persona in the Jordan/Tiger mold. Well, a huge part of Jordan's image was of Jordan as consummate businessman and member of high society. We know now that MJ has a serious gambling problem, still rolls with his old enforcer, whips out the cigars and the cards whenever he gets a chance, damn near ran the Wizards into the ground, and isn't doing the best job with the Bobcats so far; he's nowhere near the businessman that Magic Johnson has been into his retirement. Mostly, MJ was a businessman because he let his name on the right things and looked the part. Nike knows this better than anyone, which means LeBron should know it as well. So why does LeBron dress the way he does?

One thing to note is that LeBron's not dressing like a gangster, which set AI's mainstream acceptance back a good 6 or 7 years. He's just dressing like he's intentionally trying to be goofy, which could tie back to his surprisingly wacky turn as the host of the ESPYs, trying to remind us all that he's a big kid at heart beneath the two kids and 90 million dollars and MVP numbers and the absolving of sins. Or it could just be that he was trying to look like Kanye and Maverick Carter told him it looked good. Or it could be the other end of the bet that led to Drew Gooden's ducktail. As we found out far too well recently, Nike really can't keep their biggest clients in check the way we think they can sometimes.

Redemption in Las Vegas


This summer, the titans of the game, LeBron and Kobe, went to Las Vegas with holes in their hearts and chips on their shoulders, the both of them coming fresh off of utter beatdowns at the hands of better teams. Both of them saw that they still had a ways to go before getting their teams a championship, which LeBron needs to take the next step towards becoming the Next and Kobe needs to redeem the second volume of his story. Both of them saw they had a ways to travel to get the ring, but they would have to go in different directions. LeBron's road led him to look inward, while Kobe had to look outside.LeBron and the E Street Band's improbable path to the NBA Finals saw LeBron lifting one weight from his shoulders and finding another-in one week, LeBron took the final step in clearing himself of all the "too soft," "doesn't want it bad enough," and "can't make the big shot" labels by slamming the door on the seemingly superior Pistons in games 3 and 4, having his legendary game 5, and then out-thinking the Pistons' reactionary double-coverage with deft passing in game 6 to seal the series. In leading his ragtag bunch to the finals by systematically mixing in his stretches of dominance with deft leadership and team-involvement, LeBron proved himself the consummate team leader, a man capable of putting an entire team on his back and carrying them to an entirely different plane with not just his skills but his knowledge of when to deploy them, a distinction previously reserved for MJ.Unfortunately, LeBron was stopped cold in his tracks by a San Antonio team hellbent on exposing LeBron's still-incomplete individual game, cutting off his driving lanes, keeping him from getting his teammates involved, and forcing them to beat him by doing something other than going to the basket and leading a trail of bodies in his wake. Their strategy worked; LeBron's mid-range jumper continually fell short, and when he tried to post up Bruce Bowen to keep the defense from loading up on him, his lack of refinement in the post and inability to create easy looks for himself was exposed as well. (Quick aside: KD's got a New Job! Thank God; I was going through withdrawals.) All told, LeBron shot the ball 90 times in 4 games and only made 35% of his shots; in a series decided by 24 points, LeBron knew that while many would say the Cavs were simply overmatched, in reality he knew that the ultimate reason for the loss, or at least the sweep, was that holes remained in his game.Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant quickly suffered a 5-game loss to the mighty Suns. Kobe played spectacularly in the series, slapping up 33/5/5 on 47% shooting, numbers as good or better than any player in any series during the entire playoffs. Yet Kobe was unable to impose his will on the series the way MJ did back in the day; his greatness failed to carry over to the rest of his team, and only Lamar Odom posted double figures in scoring for a talented offensive team in a high-scoring series. The Suns may even have stifled a chuckle; not only was their strategy to let Kobe get his points and leave his teammates out, they put that strategy in :07 Seconds or Less, which included the Suns' strategy meetings against the Lakers when they met in the playoffs the previous season. Coupled with Kobe's inexplicable fold in Game 7 the previous year, many began to say (okay, this is mostly my theory, but I think a lot of people secretly thought it), that while Kobe had raised his game to a level of individual perfection not seen since Jordan, he did not possess the mysterious and intangible quality that Jordan acquired in the legendary stage of his career-the ability to individually control any and every game, to make his teammates better, and to win big games through sheer savvy and force of will. Whil[...]

Where to go for Your Advanced Basketball Stats


First off, here's a link to an epic post I slapped up on SportsHub LA about all the games during USC/UCLA weekend, which even got linked on TrueHoop with a glaring grammatical error right there in the quoted paragraph. Hey, it's not like I'm an English major or anything. Today's Berri/Bynum/Kobe debacle made me finally get around to putting up a kind of "Beginner's Guide To Advanced Basketball Stats," which I've wanted to do for a while. I'm a bit of a stats junkie: when I read "Moneyball" as a kid, a light kind of went off in my head and I've been a die-hard stats guy ever since; I'm a huge proponent of knowing everything possible about a topic before forming an opinion, and a big reason I don't write about baseball is that guys like Bill James have nearly reduced the game to a science, and I don't think there's more informative/insightful work on baseball than what the guys at Baseball Prospectus are doing, and I don't have anywhere near the resources to keep up with them and tell people anything Prospectus can't. I could say "The Yankees should think about the fact that horrible, horrible things often happen to teams that put a lot of stock into young pitching," and mention the A's and Cubs, but BP could easily break out an analysis of age, usage rates, and everything else and have a definite answer where I could only offer a few anecdotes. Because of the team nature of basketball, it's still more art than science, which is why it's much more fun for me to write about. That being said, there's been a movement to provide Moneyball-type basketball statistics in the last few years, and of course I've been keeping up. Here are my favorite advanced-stats websites:1. John HollingerSynopsis:'s resident basketball statistician and thus probably the best-known one of all, which is fortunate, because he's probably better than anyone else at navigating the uneasy divide between basketball science and basketball art. Signature Statistic: PER (Player Efficency Rating), a stat that takes all of a player 's points, shooting percentage, rebounds, assists, etc. on a per-minute basis and puts them into one individual statistic. Uniting Theory: Basketball stats should not be measured by the gross of what they do over a game or a season, because those numbers are skewed by usage, pace, league conditions, and minutes played but what players and teams to on a per-possession basis. Useful Statistics: True Shooting %(Takes free throws and 3-pointers into account and gives a shooting percentage based on all of those-hugely valuable when comparing guys like Shaq and Steve Nash), "pace" factor (how many possessions a team uses in a given game), usage rate (how many possessions a player uses in a given game), assist ratio (what % of a player's possessions end in assists), rebound ratio (what percentage of rebounds a player pulls down).Sample John Hollinger Column: A great piece about how the point guards that age well are the ones that shoot well, have good size, and pass well, while the ones that do only one or none of those things will fall off rapidly after 30.Pretentiousness factor: Low to Moderate. Hollinger believes in his statistics, but knows they don't exist in a vacuum; in his player previews, he includes a more conventional paragraph explaining what about that player may have caused his numbers to fail to describe him, such as that player's defense, how young players can mess up his system, how he'll be playing a different role this year, how a trade may have affected his team, etc. However, if you argue with one of his findings, like that a team's true quality is better calculated by their average scoring margin than their actual wins and losses, prepare to feel his wraith. 2. 82games.comSynopsis: Essen[...]

LeBron Domination Check, Bullets, Links


-Before we get into LeBron's ridiculous numbers, look at what he's been doing to win games: The Cavs are 9-6 right now. They have led 1 game after 3 quarters. That is not a misprint. They are 6-6 in games they're losing over three quarters, easily the best winning % in the NBA from that spot, and 2-0 when tied after 3 quarters, like they were when the Cavs beat the Celtics tonight. The reason for this is LeBron. In crunch time, (less than 5 minutes left to play, neither team up by more than 5), LeBron is averaging 76 points per 48 minutes on well over 50% shooting, with 9.6 assists per 48 minutes to boot. Most superstars have clutch stats significantly worse than their normal stats.

-Today's "LeBron is putting up ungodly numbers" stat: When you combine points, rebounds, and assists, LeBron is at 723. #2 is Dwight Howard at 615.

-Heroes watch: Hey, Peter, if you can read minds, how about READING EVIL ADAM'S MIND SO HE STOPS PLAYING YOU LIKE AN IDIOT! Also, is the thing that concerns you most about the upcoming holocaust losing your moderately attractive girlfriend of a few weeks? Christ. Liked Sylar's story. 1 twin down... and every minute you spend in New Orleans trying to get that backpack back is a minute of your life you owe me. By the way, do you guys just tune out when I start talking about TV? I watch too much of it, so I figure I might as well write about it here, but if I'm wasting your time I'll stop. Lemme know.

-New Post on MVN. Go boldly.

-New Post on Free Darko should be up sometime this morning. By the time I wake up to edit this, it'll probably already be up, so just check the site.

-Quitting smoking this week. Wish me luck.


Now That's A Great Picture



New Post is up for SportsHub. Enjoy.

Artsy Movies! Jemele Hill! Nepotism! Patricide! Bullets!


I've got posts awaiting editing for SportsHub and Free Darko (I have editors now!), so for now you'll have to make do with some bullets:-I really liked the last episode of Heroes, although I'm disappointed they decided to call it "Cautionary Tales" instead of "Patricide!" What we learned from the last episode(sub-bullets alert!)-Claire ruining her father's carefully-laid plans by being a whiny teenager and wanting to stay with her boyfriend of three weeks: boo. The moral: women ruin everything.-Moral #2: Mohinder ruins everything. Also, there has never been a completely successful standoff/prisoner trade in the history of television or movies.-I'm really glad that HRG isn't dead, since he's one of my two favorite characters on the show(and now that Sylar's stuck with the twins, he's got the #1 spot locked up), but I'm annoyed that he has to be brought back to life. One of Lost's great rules is "when someone's dead, they're really, really dead." With time-travel and now Claire's magic blood, death on Heroes has officially reached Princess Bride-style degrees; kinda dead, mostly dead, and Malcolm McDowell. Also, they could have picked up "Don't add two annoying Hispanic characters who have nothing to do with anything for no reason, because people will hate them with a passion," from Lost. At least they learned to copy the shifting purpose of "The Others." -Wow, I should have figured out that the hooded guy was Adam sooner. I'm terrible at spotting these sorts of things. -Parkman's power doesn't suck at all! Hooray!-HRG warming up to Claire's boyfriend and talking to him about cars: wonderful.-Do you think Claire's brother has to tell people he's on Heroes? Does he use that as a pick-up line? Does it work? -Do you think Peter absorbed the Haitian guy's power? Or is his absorbing a power that was blocked by the Haitian guy? I've always wondered if he would absorb his power and use it to block out his power of blocking out powers, then open up a can of blasting on his ass. I think too much about this stuff.-Great article on College A Capella Groups. Full disclosure: the guy who wrote it has been my friend since 1st grade. Still, it's awesome. And it's pretty mean, so if you love A Capella, go over there and give him crap-friends should go through being torn apart by anonymous people together. -Straight guys can really like Alicia Keyes, right? I mean, she's really hot. Yeah, I don't like her music at all. I just like looking at her. That's the ticket.-Am I the only person who really likes Jemele Hill's writing? Judging by the comments on her articles, I might be, and that's a bummer, because I think she's really good; she writes about stuff most writers wouldn't touch with a 30-foot pole, and manages to offer a cogent and well-written viewpoint on it. She's not always right, but I don't believe a writer has to be right about everything to be effective; if they were, they'd be the ones actually making the decisions. I always come away from her pieces entertained and thought-provoked, which is enough for me. -Watched Requiem For A Dream last night. I don't swear on this blog, so I can't really describe how it made me feel accurately, but that (stuff) was (quite) intense. I was (indeed) shaking by the end of that (mother-enjoying) movie. Most terrifying movie I've ever seen in my life. -LeBron: 34,7,and 7! 11-22 shooting and 11-12 free throws! Cavs lose! 1-7 from 3; the annual "Hey, LeBron's hitting 40% of his threes this year!" period has officially ended. Come back next November.-Amare had a 26-13; please return, Amare. Meanwhile, Mike D'Antoni played his starters 35 minutes each and played 8 guys in total. Hey, it's not lik[...]

Various News And Notes at 3:30 in the morning


-I have my life back; my pledge semester is over and I MADE IT. We started with 24; 13 of us finished. It's a good feeling. Between having actual free time and the television writer's strike, expect a lot more posts; I'm shooting for 3-5 per week between here, MVN, SportsHub, and Free Darko. -Here's My 1st Post on Free Darko, about how the NBA perceives class. I thought it turned out pretty decent; not quite as strong as I wanted to make my 1st post, but FD posts are really, really hard to write. Also, those commenters are really, really smart. You gotta bring your A game to FD. -My 1st real post on SportsHub. In a word: yikes. I thought this was one of the best ideas I'd ever had, and emailing it along to Shoals ultimately ended up with me getting my dream job at FD. It ended up getting a reception somewhere in between Jenni Carlson's column and Howard Dean's "yeaaaaaargh!" I got absolutely freaking murdered over there, which really hasn't happened to any extent since my Durant piece, and even then there were a lot of positive comments. Also, Durant did make an amazing game-winner, but he's shooting under 40% with low assist and rebound totals and a 2-7 team, so I'm still not ready to call that a bad column. This was a bad column, for a number of reasons:-The comparison that made perfect sense in my head was a bit of a stretch; it's always going to be hard for the lines of a fictional aristocrat and a shooting guard to match up, and if you don't want to see it, it's easy to poke holes in.-I tried waaaaaaaaaaaay too hard to sound sophisticated and literary when I should have just stuck to sports stuff; sometimes I forget that I've only been studying English for a few months, and I'm really not even doing that well in my English classes, when a lot of my colleagues have Masters degrees and have been writing professionally for some time, so when I try to show off as a writer next to those guys, I just look stupid. Good lesson to learn, but I would have preferred to learn it when I wasn't posting my 1st essay on a site I'm really excited to be a part of. -I'm trying to follow LBJ's example and be a "no-excuses" writer, but Jesus H. Christ, LA fans are tough. I think I got a little used to Cleveland fans, who are generally Midwestern, filled with a sense of doom about their team, and will hence never get all that defensive about their players; my colleague/boss at MVN has named Larry Hughes "Laura", Mike Brown should be happy he's not in effigy somewhere, and even LeBron is far from immune to criticism-the leading poster on the best Cavs message board on the internet's avatar was Dwayne Wade with the Jim O'Brien trophy for several months last year. On the other hand, Lakers fans are coastal and harsh, filled with pride over their storied Lakers, and ridiculously defensive about their own players, especially Kobe. When I get my degree, I'm moving to Wisconsin. End of story.I still think the article was a bad idea, but I still don't think I got a fair shake; I thought I executed on that post better than I did on my "Price of the Game," which I walked away from thinking I'd really failed to do the idea justice because of my shortcomings as a writer, and I've felt the same way about lots of other posts that have gotten picked up and gotten positive receptions. Okay, I'm just bitching now, but getting absolutely crucified will shake you up, especially when you're suddenly writing along with guys from The LA Times and ESPN, not to mention your idol, and are wondering how the hell you're supposed to be able to do that when you can't even pull a B in Writing 140. All writers are insecure: Malcolm freaki[...]



In November 2006, I started writing about basketball by posting on a great little message board called One year later, I've made it. I just officially joined Free Darko. That's right. Free Freaking Darko. My absolute favorite NBA website on the planet. I've been reading it avidly for 2 years, and now I'm actually a part of it. Couple that with the excitement of joining SportsHub LA, and I'm really on a high right now-I feel like I can actually do this with the big boys. Thank all of you so much for allowing me to do this.

I'm now a member of 4 sites, including this beautiful little blog right here, so I'll be spread pretty thin posting-wise. (A reminder; my pledge semester ends Wednesday, which means I get to go back to "work" full-time.) Here's my basic schedule/plan for how I'm going to try and make good contributions to all these sites:

MVN: Cavs recaps, thoughts about the Cavs, Cavs-related things, generally fairly quick-hit, with the occasional essay mixed in there.

SportsHub: Laker/Clipper recaps, with longer posts about the LA basketball scene, including USC hoops (1st game Saturday!)

Free Darko: Long-Form NBA conjecture, generally dealing with FD things like meaning and implication, 3-4 times a month because it's not easy to come up with FD-worthy ideas.

TBF: Everything else, from goofier essays, bullet points, thoughts on TV, and essays that aren't about the Cavs, Lakers, or Clippers but aren't quite thought-provoking enough to be on Free Darko.

My Season of Discontent


Hey, everyone. It's two in the morning right now, and I can't sleep. My pledge semester ends in a week, and I am officially a miserable shell of a human being. Perhaps that's why the NBA's first week has brought me more misery than happiness so far, but most of the major and not-so-major developments in the NBA so far have made me extremely displeasured. I might come back in a little with the things that are making me happy, but right now the list is essentially Boobie Gibson, nicotine, and Tom Jones' duet with Joss Stone. I probably feel worse about loving that than loving smoking, but I'll be damned if I don't love em' both. Anywhere, here's my list of misery:1. Kobe's failure to doody or get off the potThis was supposed to be the year when the Kobe in LA saga would finally come to its conclusion, with Kobe tiring of toiling in relative mediocrity and making a final push to either achieve greatness or finally implode unto himself like a dying star. Instead he's still with the Lakers, and he's playing pretty much the same way he did last year; unassailable greatness without true transcendence, mixing flashes of dominance with stretches of quasi-dominance, switching between singularly driven bursts of revenge basketball and a vague attempt to understand the dynamics of team greatness that remain opaque to Kobe despite all his efforts, with the ring he can call his own haunting him the way Daisy Buchanon haunted Jay Gatsby as he strove to make himself perfect in order to gain access to a place of bliss that his own hubris made it impossible for him to inhabit. Instead of drawing to an awe-inspiring crescendo, his story continues to linger, and I'm tired of waiting.2. LeBron's failure to become the ultimate weaponThis summer, we saw a vision of the perfect basketball player; LeBron James, he gifted as none before him have ever been, was supposed to have gone home this summer and have brushed up his weaknesses, specifically his outside shooting and free throw shooting, and on top of that, he said he was adding post moves. Oh, and he got laser surgery to give him 20-15 vision. He then proceeded to flash his new pretty form at the FIBAs en route to making 2/3rds of his 3s. This was the season LeBron was to become the ultimate machine of basketball. And even though he's giving a crap and playing great so far this season, he continues to struggle with the weaknesses we all assumed would be cured by time and work; he went 3-11 on long jumpers last night, and 7-15 on free throws. Now I may be forced to cope with the fact that LeBron has a ceiling, which I refuse to do. 3. Boston's big 3 imploding horrifyingly on itselfI love KG. I love Ray Allen. I like Paul Pierce. It's somewhat enjoyable to watch them all play perfectly together, but how much more fun would it have been if they became a horrifying new version of the Knicks, especially since the Knicks have slid into unfunny mediocrity? KG probably would have punched someone out by now, and Doc Rivers would probably start wearing body armor to games. And admit it, we're all rooting for a little Boston failure right now. Of course, this may be lingering resentment over the fact that they were given the East Championship before the season started while my team got written off after WINNING THE THING LAST YEAR. Freaking East Coast Bias.4. The Suns going establishment on usAt this point, they're really just a skilled pick-and-roll team with a great point guard and quality shooters. They've lost their breakneck pace, regularly scoring less than 100 points. More horrifyingly, the beast that is Amare is[...]

Case Study in Draft Busting: The North Carolina Tarheels


With Florida's vaunted repeat champion teams entering the NBA this year, being picked at #3, 7, 9, 41, and 52, I got to thinking about the last individual college team with such rosy draft prospects and college success, the Carolina Tarheels of the 2005 NBA draft. Essentially, not one of them has proven themselves to be effective NBA players yet, which would seem like disturbing news to the Hawks, Timberwolves, Bulls, and Blazers. But let's break it down: how is this new crop of Florida boys similar to the 2005 NC team? How are they different? Will they ultimately bust the same way the 'heels did? As usual, I have no idea at the start of the post, so hopefully we'll find something more conclusive than in my point guard week starting post, which yielded disappointing results. So let's get down to it.Raymond Felton:An ultra-quick, pass-first true point guard who had quarterbacked his team to an NCAA championship, Felton could well have been considered the safest pick of the 3,4,5 combo of points in 2005, as he had more of a history of success than Chris Paul and, at 6-1, didn't have his height concerns, and had the athletic talents to save him from the "college body, college game" concerns surrounding Deron Williams. Paul had the best rookie point guard year in recent memory, and is generally considered to already be a member of the elite PG tribunal with Nash and Kidd, while Williams shook off a subpar rookie season and led his team to a Conference Championship birth. Meanwhile, Felton toiled for the lowly Bobcats, averaging a seemingly solid 13 points and 7 assists on with an abysmal 38.4% FG and 3 turnovers per game. Why has Williams fared so much worse than Paul and Williams, and the average NBA point guard? First of all, Felton is a worse passer than those two, although that's a bit unfair because while Felton is certainly a very good passer, Williams and Paul are spectacular passers, averaging 10+ assists per 48 minutes with stellar turnover numbers.The real problem with Felton is that he can't score. IT IS NOT THAT HE CAN'T SHOOT. Allow me to explain. Around draft time, teams tend to look at a few things from point guards: Passing ability, Speed, Outside Shooting, Size, Leadership, and Defense. Felton's only weakness in those categories is outside shooting; with a .423% mark on jumpers, he's in the bottom half of NBA guards. However, there are many extremely effective point guards in the NBA who shoot from outside just as badly, if not worse, than Felton. Williams only shoots .468%, and Paul only shoots .433%. Raymond Felton's unforgivable sin is that he can't finish inside, and he isn't too good at drawing fouls. Felton has blinding speed, which allows him to take a full 1/3rd of his shots from "inside"; that's more than Paul and Williams, who are at 30% and 32%, and draws a comparable amount of fouls. However, while Paul and Williams can finish inside at clips of .544% and .552%, respectably, Felton's "inside" mark is all the way down at .458%. Devin Harris and Tony Parker don't hit effectively from outside either, but their "inside" marks are both well over .600%. The error made in projecting Felton was that his low FG% was due to poor shooting, which is a forgivable weakness that can be fixed over time, either by improving the shot or building your game around going to the hole. However, when a quick guard can't finish inside, he will have serious, possibly unsolvable problems being effective at the next level. Teams need to be wary of the difference between "bad shooter" and "bad scorer" when drafting[...]

I Have Another New Job!



Good News, everyone!

Brian Kamenetsky, formerly of the L.A. Times and ESPN the Magazine, is starting up a website for L.A. sports, Sports Hub LA. He describes it as a "Huffington Post-type project, combining mainstream access with outsider opinion to create a 1-stop site for L.A. Sports." I'm excited about that, and I've never heard of the Huffington Post in my life. One look at their roster and I was completely sold-a slew of LA Times and ESPN journalists, not to mention the immortal Kevin Arnovitz of ClipperBlog. Looking at that, I was convinced they'd made some type of mistake by hiring me, but far be it from me to correct them.

Even though I'm mainly a Bay Area guy, with a random allegiance to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I'm hugely excited about this opportunity; I'm going to get to be an actual member of the media, with access and everything. If you love Los Angeles sports, this site is the place for you to go. I'm still keeping the blog, of course, but I encourage all of you to hop over there as soon as you get a chance. Thank all of you guys so much for giving me the support I needed to get this opportunity-without you, I'm just shouting at the wall.

Playoff Manifesto #3: Damon Jones!


Can be found here, over at MVN's Cavs site, which I'm a member of and don't write enough for. Enjoy.

Season Manifesto #2: Kobe Bryant!


Hello. I am Kobe Bryant. I will destroy you.

Our team is having a tough time right now. We have a talented young center, a great young playmaking guard, a quality veteran guard, a former all-star forward, a fantastic hustle forward, and a great glue guy in Luke Walton. However, all of them suck. Not one of them can score while I'm shooting the ball. Could I please get some help? I need a trade, but preferably to a great team that needs a guy to score 30 points per game for them, and wouldn't need to trade any good players in order to get me. Is that so hard? If I had some great players around me, then I'd be happy. Of course, I wouldn't want them to be too good, or I'd chase them out of town. Call up the Mavericks and trade me for Josh Howard and DeSagina Diop. Sure, we'd be worse as a team, but the important thing is that I'd be happy.

What I need is an efficient 20 ppg scorer who doesn't need to dominate the ball all the time to get his points, like that Caron Butler. Oh, right. I had him, and then his points and assists went up playing next to Gilbert Arenas, while I carried out the legacy of my idol by further destroying Kwame Brown's psyche.

Look, I'm a good teammate. I pass a good 4 or 5 times a game. When one of my teammates gets mad about me shooting too much or playing outside the system, I put my arm around them and talk to them like they're 12. I give young players advice on how to play within their limits while I shoot 30 times a game. I pretend to play really good defense for 10 minutes a game. Look at tonight-for 5 minutes near the end of the 1st quarter, I got right up in his grill and SHUT HIM DOWN before handing him off to Luke Walton and letting him score 30 points on 20 shots and 12 free throws. And whenever I sell out one of my teammates, I make sure not to do it to their face.

I'm stuck here in LA for now, and I've decided that the best way for us to grow as a young team is by shooting more. Tonight, I shot 32 times and shot 27 free throws, a full half of our team's shots. I made sure to lead the team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals. Giving Bynum touches in the low-post or letting Farmar run a pick-and-roll might seem to help them, but ultimately they'll best improve by watching me take on double-teams all night long. That's why I tell Phil to keep Bynum buried in favor of Turiaf and Kwame; not only have those guys learned not to shoot, but by destroying Bynum, I will further prove my genius over Jerry Buss by undermining the team completely. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go practice shooting fadeaways over triple-teams.*

*I did not mean any of what I just said. I love the Lakers, love my coach, and my only goal this year is to win a championship with my current team. Also, I support global warming research. And for you young people, I have nicknamed myself Black Mamba. I can do the Soulja Boy. These things are "swaggerous," as you say. Why don't more people like me?

Season Manifesto #1: Andrei Kirilenko!


Greetings America,

I am Andrei Kirilenko. I had problem with Jazz management over the off-season. I enjoy to play the power forward. They tell me Carlos Boozer is power forward. In seasons past, I deal with this problem by calling my friend Vladimir and having them break Carlos' feet. Then I play power forward. However, Vladimir is now in the jail. But I will still play the power forward. Tonight, I poison Mehmet Okur's water, and he only play 13 minutes. However, they put Paul Milsap at the power forward then.

The Jazz did not trade me, and I was unable to escape to Russia. I still hate Jerry Sloan, but am forced to play for him. I have come up with solution. I will play very hard, but my allegiance will not be for him.

This season, I will play entirely for the purpose of fantasy basketball. My line tonight was 9 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal, 5 blocks, 3 turnovers, and a foul. Scoring points would make team win. I am not interested in making team win. I am interested in my value in 8-category roto leagues. If I am wide-open for dunk, I will pass to teammate with jumping shot to get assist. I will not block the ball to my teammates, but back at the other team so that I can get another block. I will stop playing man-to-man defense and begin only attempting to get blocks and steals. I will box out my own teammates for rebounds. I will deliberately miss shots in the paint so that I may rebound them. I will throw passes as hard as I can at opposing players so that they will bounce off of them and I can get the steal. I will bribe scorer so that he give me assists on entry passes.

Jerry Sloan will continue to give me the 40 minutes, or I will use my free pass to sleep with his wife. I will be successful in my quest. Did you see Enemy At The Gates? That tells you all you need to know about Russians. We never surrender. I am like the Jude Law, except in real life there would have been no triangles of loving; my wife would have been down for the threesome.

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