Monday, April 16, 2007

Wabbit season

One of the things I love about sports are the stories that, when you first hear them, you can't quite decide if they're true or not- the kind that seem to develop around and add to the legend of great players. I always remember hearing the tales of Jerry Rice developing his incredible hands from hours spent catching bricks while working with his brickmason father. Jerry Rice seemed almost superhuman as a kid, and that story added to the legend.

Eric Adelson has done a good job tracking down another of those stories, one well known to any college football fan, especially in the SEC.

I think I like the piece because it takes me back to a time when I accepted such tales as the Gospel rather than with the cynicism born of one who has seen too many agent-spun marketing campaigns. Because I first heard of the Glades players in the cane fields as a youngster, I accepted it without question. It's nice to finally read a first hand account.

The image of the father trying to chase down the rabbit and calling for help really stuck with me. I could go much more in-depth, but the simplest commentary is aging sucks.

I wish I could still play my dad one-on-one and know that, no matter how hard I played, he would still find a way to beat me in the end.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Contract Boston

You know how you speak to some Italians, and they act as if the Roman Empire fell last Tuesday and completely ignore the fact that their nation is arguably the most screwed up in Western Europe for the last 1000 years or so?

Haven't there been enough years of incompetence to accurately apply that analogy to Boston Celtic fans?

Bill Simmons's first suggestion for fixing the NBA is to contract Charlotte, Atlanta, and Memphis because they "can't support NBA basketball and never could." Never mind the fact that Charlotte led the NBA in attendance for seven straight years before Shinn soured the populace on his team, or that his own beloved Celtics are currently near the bottom of the league in attendance.

Boston is 23rd in the NBA in % of home seats sold, and that's with generations of history and the goodwill from two of the greatest dynasties in the sport's history. If Charlotte had the same franchise history, I guarantee the city would sell more tickets.

However, I don't think you should blast the fans for turning up their nose at a subpar product. People vote with their wallets, and Boston has been one of the worst franchises in the game for the last fifteen years. That's long enough that you can't blame it on Rick Pitino, or M.L. Carr, or that one lottery pick from 1986 that didn't work out. You know- the only one in NBA history whose career was ruined by drugs. No other franchise has ever dealt with that.

Well, they have, but they all managed to shutup about it within at least one generation.

When your franchise is bad for fifteen years, you need to stop bemoaning the fates and come to grips with reality. You suck. Not on an Isotopes level, but you're getting there.

You also haven't performed at an Atlanta Hawks level of competence.

Playoff Series Won Since Larry Bird retired*:

23. Boston (3)
24. Milwaukee (2)
24. Cleveland (2)
26. LA Clippers (1)
26. Minnesota (1)
28. Golden State (0)

* Not counting the two franchises that began play after the 1991-92 season

I could also add:

>23. Charlotte/NOK (>3)
>23. Atlanta (>3)

It's no mistake that those in italics are the three franchises most clearly tanking games in hopes of securing a draft pick high enough that even they can't screw it up. They want a multiple All-Star- one of those guys that will take and hit the big shots, defend his position, turn the franchise around, and ultimately lead his team to multiple championships. Like Chauncey Billups.

At least Billups got out. Atlanta wouldn't be in this state if they didn't have to helplessly watch players the caliber of Paul Pierce waste their careers with a sadsack organization like the Celtics.

The Celtics are losers, and their organizational embrace of "Just lose, baby!" proves it. And it isn't going to change any time soon, because I can gaurantee Red Auerbach isn't walking through that door.