Sunday, August 31, 2008
Not enough JT for you? Then surf on over to www.tesh.com, where you can learn more about John's views on a variety of subjects, including pets, computers (featured article: "Cyberbullying Has Become a Huge Problem"), and "intelligent kindness."
It is clear to me that NBC turned the right man when they were in need of a theme song for their NBA coverage in the nineties.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Magic vs. Kidd
This comparison probably isn’t very close. Magic was the best PG to lace up the sneakers (and this coming from a huge John Stockton fan). He and Bird essentially reinvented and reinvigorated the game of basketball in the NBA. In particular, Magic brought a new version of the fastbreak which had its own name…Showtime. Kidd has been a Magic Johnson prodigy…a pass-first PG who loves the fastbreak and distributing the ball. Kidd has become ‘one of the top 5 PGs’ of all-time, yet definitely peaked 4-5 years ago. To his credit, Kidd has been a solid team leader for the Redeem Team.
Edge: Magic, easily
Jordan vs. Kobe
Michael and Kobe will forever be compared to one another. Kobe is arguably the best player in the world right now. He’s got the complete overall game and owns an incredibly accurate jumper and 3-point shot (perhaps better than Jordan). Kobe has become a great defender for Team USA. BUT, we’re comparing him to the best player ever. Jordan sits alone on his pedestal of greatness. He’s THE BEST EVER. No one can match his competitiveness, focus, drive and ability. Until Kobe wins rings without Shaq around, he’ll be looking upward towards the MAN.
Bird vs. LeBron
So, our comparison with Larry and LeBron is somewhat unfair. They’re two completely different players. Bird was ‘the straw that stirred the drink’ for the Dream Team. He was the ultimate team player (passing, shooting, intangibles). LeBron actually provides similar abilities. He passes well and gets his teammates the ball. Bird was probably the best shooter to step on the court. LeBron doesn’t match-up in this regard, but he’s still young and has time to grow and develop. LeBron brings something that Bird doesn’t…he’s an incredibly athletic, physical specimen. Call me crazy…
Edge: LeBron, by a hair
Barkley vs. Carmelo
Charles was perhaps the best rebounder ever. People didn’t call him the ‘Round Mound of Rebound’ for nothing. By the time he played for the Suns, he had an unreal all-around game…shooting, scoring, rebounding, passing. He was powerful! Carmelo can score with the best of ‘em, but he doesn’t do much else. He deserves his star-status, but he doesn’t match up to the Chuck-ster.
Ewing vs. Howard
Ewing owns the advantage over Dwight Howard. He was an immensely skilled and powerful center. He was tough to stop in the post. Howard may be considered the most athletic center to play hoops, but his skills don’t match up to Patrick Ewing.
Edge: Ewing, by a little
Stockton vs. Deron
For a Jazz fan, this comparison is intriguing. Stockton is our legend, our hero. In ’92, he was close to playing his best basketball. He holds the all-time assists and steals record. He was the best point-guard at “setting the table” for his teammates…perfect fit for the Dream Team. Deron (I believe) is on his way to greatness. He’s also a perfect fit for the Redeem Team…unselfish, great passer and outside shooter. Every team needs a good passer.
Edge: Stockton, closely contested
Drexler vs. Wade
I believe this is the best comparison of all. Talk about similar players with similar abilities. Clyde the Glide was smooth and acrobatic. Wade might be the better ball-handler and defender. Wade played tremendous ball during the Olympics (perhaps considered the MVP). He’s been utterly amazing for the US…bringing back his Miami Heat championship form.
Pippen vs. Prince
Not even close. Pippen was a superstar defender and athletic full court player. He was a fantastic role player for the Dream Team. Pippen might actually compare favorably to LeBron. Tayshaun’s solid, but nothing spectacular.
Edge: Pippen, undoubtedly
Malone vs. Boozer
Our second Jazz player comparison falls far shorter than the first one. The Mailman was a legend, an icon, a franchise carrier. He was unreal running the floor, playing the post, rebounding defending and scoring the ball. Unreal! A better comparison for Malone might be Amare Stoudamire. Boozer is a very good player with an impressive, offensive post game. That’s about where the comparison ends.
Edge: The Mailman, in a landslide
Robinson vs. Bosh
Two lanky post players who play left-handed in the paint. Robinson was plain and simply better. Bosh is young and still has time, but doesn’t possess the strength that Robinson had.
Mullin vs. Redd
Michael Redd is a poor man’s version of Chris Mullin. Mullin’s shot ranks as one of the best ever. Redd shoots it well, but not at Mullin's standard.
Laettner vs. Paul
We can all agree that this comparison should have been Isaiah Thomas and Chris Paul. Can you believe Christian Laettner was on the Dream Team?
Edge: Chris Paul
OK. So…the Redeem Team comparison to the Dream Team doesn’t ‘hold water’. Even so, with the Redeem Team facing tougher competition over the course of the Olympic Games (comparatively to the Dream Team), they played remarkable basketball to reclaim Gold and the top spot of the basketball world landscape. With this fact alone, we should all be proud of our ballplayers in Red, White and Blue! WINNER: DREAM TEAM
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
On Sunday Team USA will take on Spain, a team that is undefeated if you don't count the 37 point drubbing the first time they played the boys in red, white and mostly blue. But make no mistake, Spain is a worthy opponent, with loads of current, and once-upon-a-time NBA talent. They are also quite possibly the goofiest collection of elite basketball players ever assembled. To prepare for the gold medal match, here's a preview of the awkwardness that will ensue:
The Gasol Brothers: These Catalan brothers are Spain's version of the Collins twins - except subtracting the Stanford degrees, and adding NBA-level talent and radio-good looks. Pau is the anchor of the offense and must have a great game if Spain is hoping to win. Pau is also the only man in history that became better looking by going with the Brigham Young/stoner look. Don't believe me? Check out his pre-beard days. His brother Marc (who was traded to Memphis for Pau) looks like a beefy Apollo Anton-Ono. As a player, Marc is a lot less fluid than Pau, and "carries a little extra weight," but he is a strong, effective center, and took advantage of the U.S. in the first game when they tried to defend him with Kobe or Wade.
Alex Mumbru: You're telling me that this academic-looking fellow is a lights out 3-point shooting small forward? If he were on an NBA team I would expect him to be working in the legal department. To get a more intimidating look, he wears that weird black tape on his shoulder that is all the rage among Olympians, but is probably just duct tape.
Jorge Garbojosa: The former Raptor is, without a doubt, the best chain-smoking big man since Vlade Divac. He's a classic Euro big man - loves the three pointer and sports just enough chest hair to make him irresistable to the ladies in Khimki. Look at him: what a sexpot.
Rudy Fernandez: This soon-to-be Trailblazer has generated some early buzz for rookie of the year. I've only watched him play in the earlier match against the U.S., but from what I can tell he's an energetic defender and a crafty scorer on offense. He also may be the dorkiest guy on an extremely dorky team. I can guarantee that this guy is fluent in elvish and has a 12-sided die with runes in place of numbers. To get a better sense of his social life, check out his myspace pictures.
Ricky Rubio: With the injury to Jose Calderon, it looks like Ricky and TCG's favored son, Raul Lopez, will be manning the point on Sunday. Rubio is talked about as a possible number one overall draft choice next year. He's 6''5', a great defender, and plays with energy and smarts. On the negative-side of things, he is a world class flop artist, looks like the love child of Adam Morrison and Getty Lee, and weighs about a buck forty-five. With some maturation, and good old fashioned American steroids, he will likely be a nice NBA point guard one day.
Juan Carlos Navarro: Love the faux-hawk. Tool.
TEAM USA HAS ALWAYS WON THE GOLD WHEN THERE IS A UTAH JAZZ PLAYER ON THE ROSTER.
- In 1992 in Barcelona: Karl Malone & John Stockton = GOLD
- In 1996 in Atlanta: Karl Malone & John Stockton = GOLD
- In 2000 in Sydney: No Jazz players = GOLD (although there was no Jazz player, I credit this Gold Medal to the absence of Tim Duncan on the roster . . . see below).
- In 2004 in Athens: No Jazz players = BRONZE (Now, Boozer was on that team, but it wasn't until later that fall that he suited up for the Jazz, so he doesn't count). Is it a coincidence that Duncan's only stint with Team USA leads to its worst failure in Olympic history? I don't think so . . .
- In 2008 in Beijing: Carlos Boozer & Deron Williams = ????????
BRING HOME THE GOLD!
With Jose Calderon out-of-action because of injury, Raul Lopez jumped into the starting line-up for Spain and helped lead the Spaniards to a 91-86 victory over Lithuania. Lopez played 19 minutes for the Spanish team and provided 7 points, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 rebounds, while also hitting clutch free throws at the end of the game to ensure a Gold Medal Match-up with the USA.
Deron Williams played a secondary role for the Redeem Team which beat the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Team, Argentina, 101-81 in the semifinal match-up. Deron Williams came off the bench to play 13 minutes, providing 6 points on 2-three pointers, 2 assists and 1 rebound.
The Americans continue their dominant play going into the Finals rematch against Spain. In their prior encounter, Team USA destroyed the Spaniards rather convincingly. Will the Spanish be out for revenge? Can they match-up with the strength, determination and star-power of the USA? If so, it'll have to be with Raul Lopez manning the point guard position, now that Calderon may not go for the Final.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Also, this week you can get two shows for the price of 1! Last week the Booner threw down. You can hear the delayed release here. Amazingly, Booner was NOT the first TCG author to discuss porn on Utah radio.
Monday, August 18, 2008
But the more dramatic example of basketball globalization may be more a result of changing economic conditions rather than improved player development. Josh Childress, among others, was lured away from the best league in the world because of the almighty Euro. Rumors abound that Lebron, or Kobe, might journey across the Atlantic for piles of fake-looking money.
But how does this all affect the Jazz? Can the most provincial of NBA teams possibly be touched by global currency fluctuations? You bet.
Most Jazz players are not attractive to European teams, whether it is because of the player's contract or style of play. Paul Millsap, an absolute beast for the Jazz, would not be as valuable in the uptempo, shooter-dominated leagues in Europe. Same goes for Ronnie Brewer, and Harpring. Some guys (Deron and Boozer) aren't going anywhere because they are getting big time money here at home. Collins has no recognizable basketball talent, so the Jazz are stuck with him too.
But there may be some Euro-interest in these guys:
1. Andrei Kirilenko: Superficially at least, AK seems a likely candidate to sign with one of the cash rich Russian teams, like CSK Moscow. He even threatened to leave once before when he and Sloan were fighting. But while his inside-out game seemingly originates from the old world, his contract is 100% American capitalism. It's unlikely that any team, European or otherwise, is going to offer AK anywhere near the $15 million that the Jazz are paying him. He's just not worth that much. What's more, he's got an astounding three more years making beaucoup bucks until heading home is even an option. However, the wildcard here is that some Russian teams aren't worried about investment returns; their owners are billionaires that lose money owning their teams, but do it out of patriotic pride. Could a Russian owner be enticed to dangle millions of Euros in an effort to lure Kirilenko home as Russia's Michael Jordan? And would the Jazz let him out of his contract if he wanted to go?
Kirilenko's Euro Rating: 3 out of 10
2. Memo Okur: Okur is another guy that you'd expect to take a long hard look at Europe. He's a prototypical European center, married to a former European beauty queen, and he loves falafel in the offseason. He can opt out next year, and his current salary (about $4.5 million after taxes) is actually less than what Childress will be making in Greece. The real question with Okur is whether he prefers the limelight of the NBA to playing in Russia, or Greece. No Turkish teams have the kind of economic clout that the rich European teams have, so he'd still be playing in a foreign country, it would just be closer to home. So it may come down to whether he'd rather play soccer with his beauty-pageant wife in the idyllic hills surrounding the Aves, or on the frozen tundra of PSkov.
Okur's Euro Rating: 4 out of 10.
3. Kyle Korver: What's that, you say? Kyle "Kountryboy" Korver moving to Europe? Preposterous, right? Maybe not. Korver is the Jazzman with the most Euro-translatable game: he is big (6"6'), a pure shooter, and plays a solid team game. Plus, he makes about $6 million in the NBA, which translates to a measly 4 million Euros. Combine that with the perks of Europe (free house, car) and what's not to like? Well, besides that aggressive secularism sweeping across Europe and the absence of the K2 church.
Kyle's Euro Rating: 3 out of 10.
4. Kyrylo Fesenko: Let's be honest - Kyrylo's Rocky Mountain Revue was an abomination of the highest degree. There is something about this guy that makes coexisting with Sloan seem highly unlikely. He's making peanuts, and the Jazz have an option on him next year, but unless I'm totally off on this one, Fesenko may not even become one of TCG's Jazz greats (and the bar is pretty low). Anyway, why would Kyrylo keep plying his karate big-man act in Boise/Orem, when he can get paid in his home country of Russia (once the Russian army invades the Ukraine, I mean)? You know what? I can't think of a reason why he wouldn't.
Kyrylo's Euro Rating: 10 out of 10
Thursday, August 14, 2008
True enough, but I must come to Raul's defense. It was inappropriate, yes. But, those of us who have lived in Spain know that, while there is a steady undercurrent of racism (same could be said about the U.S.), most young Spaniards are NOT racist. Rather, their version of what is "politically correct" is much more lax than ours. They make fun of everyone. The Chinese, the Africans, the Americans, tall people, short people, fat people. They simply don't have "prohibited" words like we do in the U.S.
And let's be honest. Raul and friends do NOT even come close to looking like Chinese players, in spite of their best efforts.
Monday, August 11, 2008
On top of it, with a population of 1.3 billion people and as a host to the 2008 Olympic games, China may have posted the highest TV viewership of any sporting event ever, through the US vs China basketball game. As Deron mentions, "When the ratings come out, we'll see. Hopefully, you've played in the most-watched sporting event ever."
With so much attention and popularity in China focused on USA basketball and the NBA superstars, will it produce more Chinese basketball phenoms, along the lines of Yao, Yi and Wang? And will the Jazz get in the mix for a Chinese hoopster? To an Energy Solutions Arena near you...
Friday, August 8, 2008
The D News is reporting that Larry Miller just got out of the hospital, which is of course a good thing. He also had a heart attack, three operations, kidney problems, internal bleeding, and is in a wheelchair. Oh, and admits that it's a miracle he's alive. So I don't think things are exactly going swimmingly. Knowing Larry though, he'll be up early to watch D Will and Boozer play in the Olympics on Sunday. Er, will be up bright and early to set the VCR to record the game so he can watch it on Monday after the sabbath ends.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Remember Quincy Lewis? Of course you do. He played only three, mostly uneventful, years with the Jazz. The highlight of his career was when he went berserk in the 2001 against the Kings, scoring 4.3 points per game in the four-game series! Those types of numbers temporarily earned him the 6th spot in the coveted "Jazz Greats" feature on TCG. Unfortunately, they did not earn him a new contract. But don't worry about ol' "Q"; he landed on his feet. He went to play ball in Europe before playing ball in Europe was the cool thing to do. Last summer he signed with Bilbao Berri in the Spanish league.
Recently, I found an interview in which Quincy describes his role on his new team. Don't watch the whole thing, it's sinfully boring. Quincy is an impeccably polite fellow, but he makes a dreadful interviewee. But you don't have to wait long for the money quote, it comes early on: Quincy drops a line that might just explain his all-too-brief NBA career.
"I'm not great at anything."He goes on to list passing, shooting, ball-handling, and post play as aspects of the game at which he does not excel. Not exactly "ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE," but then Quincy never made you think of Kevin Garnett.
Note: The video has subtitles for TCG's vast Spanish-speaking fanbase.
For an example of an athlete that was able to convert excellence in only one aspect of the game into success, look no further than Joe Montana (via Freedarko). In fact, Montana's one skill was so excellent, that he was able to propel a team with nothing but Karl Malone and Hakeem Olajawon over a team with Jayson Williams and two old dudes. Now that is talent.
Remember when L.A. Gear was cool? Yeah, me neither.
Thank you, Mr. Stern, for lending us a hand.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
1) Carlos Boozer Minutes - 0!
2) Other Team USA Players Who Did Not Play - 0!
3) Other Team USA Players Who Played for Coach K at Duke - 0!
Monday, August 4, 2008
Kirilenko impressed in his role at power forward. He roamed from baseline-to-baseline, utilized his quickness, agility and face-up game and ventured out to the high-post and top-of-the-key where he was able to show off his passing skills and playmaking ability.
After AK’s first-class outing, I realized during this contest (in spite of the fact that Kirilenko was the focal point of the Russian team) that AK plays better at power forward than small forward. A la Josh Smith of Atlanta and Lamar Odom of LA, Kirilenko belongs at power forward, where he’s able to set up camp closer to the rim and offer us his length, athleticism and ball-skills. If I’m not mistaken, Kirilenko played his best seasons with the Jazz in 2003-04 and 2004-05 while playing the power forward position. Unfortunately, the Jazz (as currently constituted) are loaded at PF, with Carlos Boozer (himself good enough to be a member of USA’s best) and Paul Millsap entrenched in the paint. Neither should we forget that Mehmet Okur masquerades as a center, when truthfully he plays a pseudo-role of post-up power forward and long distance sniper. What do the Jazz do with all of these power forwards?
In the summer of 2009, Boozer and Okur have the option to opt out of their contracts, if they desire. The Jazz are on tap to pay anywhere from $47 million to $62 million of salary (depending on who opts out) to their contracted players. If only Booz and Memo opt out (and not Korver), the Jazz would only have about $20 million to use for their signature (as well as the re-signing of Paul Millsap).
What is clear and obvious: We won’t have enough “cha-ching” to re-sign our players in ’09 if we don’t make a move soon. This potentiality then begs the question... Well, who do you value most?
The Jazz have few trade assets to move (Harp?) that would open up significant salary cap space for the Summer 2009 Re-signing Extravaganza. Kirilenko’s contract is certainly viewed as the albatross. Yet, if the Jazz wanted to move Kirilenko and score “said” salary cap space (to re-sign this triumvirate), AK would need to be moved for expiring ’09 contracts BEFORE next season’s trade deadline. Otherwise, if not traded then, Kirilenko’s contract would languish on the Jazz salary cap throughout the 2009-10 season. In simpler words…keeping Kirilenko equates to losing two others. Would the Jazz deal AK47 before the 2009 playoffs? At a time when his talents and abilities would be most appreciated and desired? If not…We would essentially be saying goodbye to possibly two of Carlos, Memo and Paul. Once again, I ask…which power forward do you value most?
As you can tell, I was never a big Arroyo fan. TCG's esteemed Booner, on the other hand, was. In the comments to this post, I expect Booner to give us the inside scoop on Mr. Arroyo. Booner had such a personal relationship with Carlos that he (A) once beat Arroyo in a game of horse and (B) can comment on Arroyo's opinion of homosexuals. This should be good.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The Jazz' other Olympian also had a solid game. No, not Boozer. He only played 5 minutes, scoring 2 points. But Kirilenko proudly led the Russians offensively and defensively. His 18 points, 8 boards, 4 assists, and a steal and block kept Russia in it until late in the game. His only negative was his 50% foul shooting. Kirilenko loves playing Russian basketball.
The highlights below are mostly breakaway dunks for Kobe, Lebron, and Dwayne Wade, but ESPN also sneaks in a Kirilenko layup to be fair and balanced.
Love the blowby move on Carmelo. No defensive effort whatsoever. Don't be surprised if someone like the Bucks puts up 160 on the Nuggets this year.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Money Quote: "If I can change . . . you can change . . . everybody can change!"
Deron Williams takes on the role played to perfection by the indomitable Carl Weathers: Apollo Creed. After reaching the pinnacle of achievement (a title for Apollo; a fat contract for Deron) each man decides he must further challenge himself. For Apollo that meant fighting Ivan Drago; for Deron that means playing 2-guard behind Jason Kidd. In the end, however, neither man properly prepares himself for the challenge and they are killed in the heat of competition by their opponent. Oh, whoops, that analogy sucked. Let's just move on.
Money Quote: "Get your hands up, it's time to go to school."
In the role he was born to play, Andrei Kirilenko takes on the role of Russian fighting machine, Ivan Drago. A mysterious hulk of a man, he comes out of nowhere to take the world by storm and capture the highest achievement in his chosen field: with the help of anabolic steroids. But Kirilenko's gold medal, and Drago's belt are not enough. THEY FIGHT FOR BLOOD (and patriotism)!!! Just as Drago takes it to Apollo and Rocky, so must Kirilenko fight for his homeland's pride against Deron and Boozer. Dolph Lundgren played Drago to a steely-edged perfection, while Kirilenko's version involves a lot more giggling and chocolate milkshakes.
Money Quote: "If he dies, he dies."
Unfortunately, Travis Hansen will not participate in Monday's showdown, nor will he be by Kirilenko's side when the Russian flag enters Olympic stadium. Had he been asked, he would have played the role of Drago's evil, controlling, blond (traitorous?) wife, Ludmilla. He would have been phenomenal.