My blog has moved!

You should be automatically redirected in 6 seconds. If not, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Crossing the Mendoza Line

About a million years ago... back when fantasy hoops drafts took place in dorm rooms, with beer, and stats were looked up in the USA Today and entered into Excel spreadsheets... I joined a league with a co-owner. His name was Vic Mendoza.

I didn't know Vic all that well, but I was told he was a big NBA fan and knew his stuff. And I had some sort of conflict and could only attend the first hour or so of the draft, so I needed someone to fill out the roster. Hey, any port in a storm, right?

I don't remember many of the details of the league, except that it was auction-style, and that Vic and I spent a good portion of our budget on Magic Johnson. This was in early November of 1991 -- just days before "the announcement."

It's sixteen years later, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Johnson was my favorite player as a kid. Hearing that he was sick -- not just sick, but HIV positive -- was like a punch in the stomach. We knew so little about AIDS and HIV back then; I certainly didn't think Magic would still be around in 2007, trading jabs with Charles Barkley on TNT and opening movie theaters. I don't know how to describe how I was feeling, but "heartbroken" is as good a word as any.

I ran into Vic later that day. I'll never forget what he said to me:

"I picked up Sedale Threatt."

(For readers who aren't up on their Lakers-circa-1991 depth charts, Threatt was Magic's replacement at the point.)

Now, I don't want to make Vic sound like a bad guy. He's not. He was thinking the way many fantasy owners would... "my guy isn't playing, pick up the guy who is." He didn't know he was dismissing the illness of my childhood hero. But at the time, I was furious. And the idea of fantasy sports -- the idea that I needed to react to Johnson's announcement and minimize the damage to my pretend basketball team -- was about the farthest thing from my mind.

I was reminded of Vic Mendoza and Magic Johnson last night, when I saw the reports of TJ Ford's injury. My immediate, reflex fantasy player reaction: put in a waiver claim on Jose Calderon. After all -- I thought Calderon was a worthwhile selection before the injury. With Ford hurt -- possibly seriously -- Calderon's value would go through the roof, right?

And then I remembered. Head and neck injuries are nothing to mess with in general; for TJ Ford, given his medical history, there's even greater cause for concern. At that point, I didn't know how badly he was hurt, if the injury was career-threatening, any of that. And I decided that I needed to step away from the waiver claim form... because sometimes, real life has to be more important than fantasy.

For what it's worth, It sounds like Ford will be OK. And I still think Calderon is a potentially excellent pick-up.

Monday, December 10, 2007

This One's for Josie...

My grandmother was an enormous Yankee fan... but I don't think she ever saw a late-game comeback. Whenever the Yanks fell behind, she'd turn off the game in disgust.

She left most broadcasts before Phil Rizzuto made his nightly dash for the George Washington Bridge.

I'm glad I don't take after her in that regard -- with seven minutes left in the game, the Knicks are down eight.

(Make that ten... Nowitzki to Stackhouse for a layup.)

Edit: I don't know what's gotten into Zach Randolph. He was awful in both Philly games this weekend and in the first half of this game... but he's got 19 in the second half tonight.

Edit: Randolph's at 21. The Knicks might have a chance if they could get a freakin' stop... but of course, they can't stop anyone.

Crawford for three, Dampier for a layup. Knicks down nine. The Garden crowd is chanting De-FENCE... as if Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason are playing.

Jamal Crawford drives me crazier than any Knick since Mase-in-the-face. For every beautiful crossover or sweet entry pass, he'll make three bonehead plays. (I loved Mason, but he was legendary for attempting shots against much taller players that had no hope of ending in anything but a big swat.)

Josh Howard just clocked Eddy Curry in the mouth on the way to a hoop -- no offensive foul called, and Curry is bleeding like he was in a hockey fight. Knicks down 11 with under three minutes left... and Q-Rich air-balls a three.

Edit: Crawford misses again. Randolph misses again. Knicks down 14 with 1:11 left.

All this aborted comeback proves is that this team can be competitive when they actually play like they care. And that might be the biggest criticism of all.

Fire Isiah (Clap-Clap ClapClapClap)

A stat from Mike Breen on the MSG Network -- tonight's game marks the eighth time in twenty games this season that the Knicks have trailed by at least 20 points.

It's sort of entertaining listening to Breen and analyst Kenny Smith talk about how the players, and not Thomas, are to blame for the appalling lack of effort on display at the Garden tonight.

Um, Ken? Who signed all these guys?

Who asked his players how he should respond to Stephon Marbury's unscheduled vacation, then ignored their response and gave Marbury starter minutes?

Can we really blame the players for this?

(Also entertaining... let's consider how different Smith's take on the situation would be if he was sitting next to Sir Charles in the TNT Studio and not on press row at the Garden under the watchful eye of Jim Dolan?)

The Last Reason Not to Fire Isiah...

There's a theory that's been circulated recently that the only thing keeping Hawks general manager Billy Knight from getting the axe is the ongoing legal battle between Atlanta management and former partner Steve Belkin.

Atlanta can't fire Knight, the theory goes, because doing so would be an open admission that Knight hasn't done a good job -- and Knight's personnel moves (specifically, the acquisition of Joe Johnson from Phoenix) are one of the reasons Belkin sued in the first place.

Hmm... so a pending lawsuit can keep a guy from getting fired. That should be really encouraging for Knick fans, given the news that Madison Square Garden has settled the sexual harassment case brought by former team executive Anucha Browne Sanders.

Follow my logic:

  • Browne Sanders won at trial and was awarded $11.6 million dollars
  • MSG appealed the case
  • If MSG had fired Thomas with the appeal pending, Browne Sanders' attorneys could have argued that the sexual harassment accusations were a reason for his removal -- that Cablevision, in firing Thomas, was essentially admitting they were in the wrong
(Not that that's the only reason Thomas should be fired... his list of firing offenses is long and extensive. For example, as I write this post, Isiah has Eddy Curry covering Dirk Nowitzki -- with predictable -- 10 points on 6-of-7 shooting in six minutes -- results. Is there another coach in America, at the high school level or higher, who doesn't know that Curry can't hang with the Diggler?)

Is it possible that this settlement will help clear the way for Jim Dolan to finally make the move we've all been expecting?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Memo to the Sports Guy

The hypocrisy of sportswriters knows no bounds -- this is not news.

  • It was evident when columnists nationwide rushed to defend the authors of Game of Shadows, despite the fact that they'd published a book based on what was, essentially, stolen information.
  • It is evident every time writers file columns complaining about how they are treated by specific players and coaches... as if the fans who pay through the nose for seats up in the rafters are going to make rooting decisions based on how difficult a job might be for the guy who gets paid to watch from the press box.
  • And it is evident when a paper like the New York Daily News -- employer of Mike Lupica, who never misses an opportunity to complain about the Yankees' payroll -- calls general Brian Cashman a cheapskate on the back page because he doesn't want to give Johan Santana the biggest contract ever handed to a pitcher.
But Bill Simmons, writing in ESPN the Magazine, just trumped 'em all.

You've probably read Simmons. He's made an entire career as the voice of the long-suffering Boston sports fan -- first for AOL, and more recently and prominently as the lead voice on's "Page 2." He's witty, if repetitive, and he certainly knows his NBA. But he's hit a new low with today's column, saying that Knicks fans have no right to complain about the current state of their once-proud franchise.

Really, Bill?

He gives two reasons... which essentially amount to, "the Knicks aren't THAT bad" and "fans in other cities/of other franchises have it far worse."

Let's take those in order:

In fact, Bill, the Knicks are that bad. In the space of ten years they've gone from perennial contender to league laughingstock, with a management team that alternates between "incompetent" and "borderline criminal." And there's no light at the end of this particular tunnel. Do fans in other NBA cities have it as bad? Possibly. Maybe Sonics fans have it worse, if only due to the possibility that they could lose the team... but then, most Knicks fans feel like this team is already lost.

The "other franchises have it worse" is actually the more appalling argument. Regular Simmons readers will, no doubt, be surprised that he referenced Bill freakin' Buckner here. This is Simmons' way of claiming a monopoly and a patent on sports fan suffering... even though his Patriots are undefeated, his Red Sox are World Champions, and his Celtics look dominant.

Memo to the Sports Guy: You really should start following the Bruins again. Because you clearly have it too good with the Sox/Celts/Pats right now. It's making you cocky. And unreadable.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Enter the Matrix

This week's Give and Go column features a breakdown of possible trade offers for Shawn Marion that have been floated in the RotoWire staff league. Check out the whole discussion between me and RotoWire's managing editor Chris Liss here (subscription required).

Sixer Speculation

(Originally published at

The axe finally dropped this week on Sixer general manager Billy King. It seems reasonable to expect that this won’t be the only change at the Wachovia Center – and that could mean excellent opportunities for fantasy owners willing to engage in a little speculation.

The most obvious candidate to be traded once new team president Ed Stefanski gets settled is veteran point guard Andre Miller. Miller’s name has been floated in trade rumors since he arrived in Philly as part of the Allen Iverson trade. There are several would-be contenders that could use help at the point – Miami and Cleveland have been mentioned as potential suitors, though others could emerge (Boston? The Lakers?). Moving Miller would give the Sixers a chance to give Louis Williams an extended audition as point-guard-of-the-future, and to decide what sort of contract to offer their second-round pick from 2005.

But Miller is hardly the only Sixer who might not want to unpack his bags after the next road trip. Consider this:

  • After this season, Chris Webber’s contract comes off the books, as does Aaron McKie’s.
  • Kevin Ollie, Shavlik Randolph and the aforementioned Williams also have deals that expire after this year.

With those salaries gone, the Sixers have a mere $39 million-and-change committed to player salaries for 2008-09. They could create even more space by moving a moderately-priced veteran or two (Reggie Evans? Kyle Korver? Willie Green?) for contracts that expire after this season or the next. It might even be worth Stefanski’s time to check for interest in Andre Iguodala, who recently decided not to sign a long-term deal with Philly.

Of course, if those veterans are moved, someone will need to step in and fill the void. That could mean a sudden surge in minutes and production for one or several members of the Sixers’ 25-and-under set. Watch the playing time and production of guys like Williams, Jason Smith, Thaddeus Young and Rodney Carney, and be ready to make a claim.

Read the full article, including this week's waiver wire suggestions for deep and shallow leagues, at or on RotoWire.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Team Game

(Originally published on

Fantasy scoring is all about individual achievements... but sometimes, it pays to remember that basketball is a team game.

Case in point: Joe Johnson of the Hawks. Johnson is an elite fantasy contributor, due in large part for his ability to knock down the three. But Johnson plays for a very young, inexperienced Atlanta Hawks squad. That can be a benefit – Johnson is the unquestioned star of the show in Atlanta, and he gets as many minutes and shots as he can handle. But there's a down side that can manifest itself in very subtle ways. For example: on the season, he's shooting 30.9 percent from downtown – well off his career mark of 37 percent. What's the problem?

In Monday's game, Johnson shot 1-of-6 from three. Maybe he just wasn't "feeling it." But reports from the game indicate that several of Johnson's attempts came late in the shot clock – not set, open, stable jumpers -- desperation heaves.

Why are the Hawks getting so deep into the 24-second clock without a good look? Youth. Inexperience. Poor shot-clock management. And a revolving door at point guard, which certainly isn't helping them establish a rhythm in the half-court offense.

This is the sort of insight that can really help a fantasy owner. It indicates that there's nothing physically wrong with Johnson. It also indicates that his numbers should return to his established career norms if and when Atlanta gets some stability at the point, a healthy Tyronn Lue, or a more mature and experienced Acie Law. Keep an eye on this situation as it develops, and if the Hawks start getting better play from the point, consider making a buy-low offer on a guy like Johnson.

Read the full article, and all of this week's upgrades and downgrades, on (subscription required).

Design by Dzelque Blogger Templates 2008

Design by Dzelque Blogger Templates 2008