Posts Tagged ‘The Akron Scammer’

By Phil Bausk

All-Star weekend in Los Angeles and all eyes are on an LA Clipper?!?!?! Donald Sterling is rolling over in his grave…Well maybe not yet,but I am sure a lot of Clips fans have already combined funds to buy him a cemetery plot as far away as LA as possible.

Blake Griffin will be the main attraction this weekend in Saturday night’s Slam Dunk Contest, though the buzz around Justin Bieber’s Celebrity game debut may overshadow all news, including that revolution going on somewhere in Africa. (I say the over/under on “Never Say Never” commercials tonight is 8.5.)

Griffin, who has been spoiling fans with highlight reel dunks all season long, will be going against himself Saturday night. Serge Ibaka, Javale Mcgee, and Demar Derozan do not offer much competition (though maybe someone can sneak a W past him), and Griffin is expected to perform a one man show, as The Akron Scammers of the league continue to shy away from the Dunk contest (Lebron, remember when you said you guaranteed you were going to be in it? We should’ve seen “The Decision” coming from that point on.)

While the Dunk Contest has struggled in recent years, mainly because Gerald Green is playing somewhere in Russia now, there is still a certain amount of excitement that surrounds it. While odds are nothing crazy is going to happen, there is a certain theatricality that we hope to experience when it comes in each Saturday night of All-Star weekend. Dwight Howard offered us with some excitement for a bit, but then he claimed he was done with the contest as well, yet he still contends he is a better dunker than Blake Griffin. So let me ask you Dwight, How are you NOT in  this year’s contest to prove your point? I don’t care about the dunk counting graphic ESPN throws up once every few weeks. I would much rather see you prove your point on the floor Saturday night. Sure you have won a dunk contest, but again, the competition wasn’t too stiff.

Either way, our expectations as fans for Blake’s performance tomorrow night are extremely high. Will he meet those expectations? Who knows, but the fact that there is enough excitement to generate interest in this year’s dunk contest is definitely a step in the right direction. Maybe Blake will ask Timothea Mozgov to come help him with a dunk, where Blake ends up breaking Mozgov’s face and spirit, and Griffin is standing triumphantly on top of the backboard being showered with roses. Either way, now that the spotlight is off of Kobe Bryant in La La Land, I am sure he can cheat on his wife without any repercussions. (Does that huge diamond ring he bought her in Colorado a few years back count as a repercussion?)

Outside of the Dunk contest, there are a few other intriguing events that will take place this weekend. Tonight, there is the Celebrity basketball game followed by the Rookie-Sophomore game. I think the time line of events for those things unfold pretty predictably. Jimmy Kimmel and Bill Simmons, the two coaches for this game, will get thrown out for being super annoying, while Justin Bieber brings in the 12-17 year old demographic to cheer him on every time he touches the ball. Michael Rapaport will do his best Brian Scalabrine impersonation, missing corner three pointers, and annoying everyone who comes within 20 feet of the basketball court. The final score of the game won’t matter, but the fact that we will get to see Jason Alexander stand right next to Bill Walton will give the older crowd a flashback of that Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger flick, “Twins.”

Moving forward we have the Rookies against the Sophomores. This game is a pick up game with some of the most athletic guys in the league and has created some exciting moments. I remember Jason “White Chocolate’s” Williams’ elbow pass to Raef Lafrentz, and no Nuggets and Celtics fans, Lafrentz didn’t dunk the ball, and I am pretty sure he never has dunked a ball in his adult life. Kevin Durant’s performance a couple of years ago was memorable, as well as David Lee’s 14-14 from the field exhibition. I expect to see a lot of nice alley oops with the amount of talented big men in the game, and I wouldn’t be surprised if John Wall doesn’t break a few ankles on the way to the MVP award for the game.

Saturday night is really where the fun beings. Due to the fact that the team shooting competition is really just a time filler, I am going to move on to the Skills Competition, brought to us by the classy people of Taco Bell. I love this event because it tends to have the most overall talent than all of other competitions. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Russell Westbrook will square off against one another, going through an obstacle course that would probably take players like Sebastian Telfiar and Howard Eisley the entire weekend to complete. I believe Stephen Curry is going to come out on top of this one because his team has the nicest jerseys, and his eyes can make you forget all about life’s troubles (It doesn’t hurt that he could be mistaken for Miles Austin’s son).

Up next is the 3 point competition, where defending champ Paul Pierce will try to fend off teammate, and new 3-point King, Ray Allen and repeat, which would put him in a class with the infamous Jason Kapono, something I am sure Pierce has been spending his entire career trying to do. Also participating is Kevin Durant, along with James Jones, Dorell Wright, and Daniel Gibson. Gibson may be auditioning for other teams this weekend, while Wright and Jones may just be looking for a little more cash to spend at the strip club. At the end of the day, I think Ray Ray will take it, as this has been his year so far, and in a year where he passes Reggie Miller for the most 3-pointers of all time, how can he not win this event?!?!?

Last, and certainly not least, is the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest. Now the easy thing to do would be to just pick Blake Griffin, put the bet in on, and forget that you even made that simple of a bet. Well I think Blake, who has everything going for him, is going to LOSE tomorrow night’s contest. I think Washington Wizard’s Javale Mcgee is going to pull off the upset, and be the Justin Morneau to Blake Griffin’s Josh Hamilton in the 2008 Home Run Derby.  Mcgee plays for the Wizards, a team that clearly doesn’t spend much practice time going over plays and defensive assignments. Mcgee, an athletic 7 ft Center out of the Dwight Howard mold, has probably been practicing a few dunks, and will have John Wall there to assist him. I think Mcgee will surprise everyone by  taking this contest, and then much like past champion, and former high school crush Gerald Green, he will be forgotten about as soon as March rolls around.


By Phil Bausk

Football is a game of inches, Basketball is a game of egos, Hockey is a game of white people, and Baseball is a game of numbers. No sport’s outcome is determined by statistics as much as America’s past time is, and men (though not many) like Bill James have sculpted Hall of Fame careers out of analyzing the numbers over and over, transforming the game into what it has become today.

While I am not expert at Sabermetrics, nor am I relatively competent when it comes to them, I find that through my years of watching, playing, and obsessing over baseball, I have concocted some decent forecasts about how a season might unfold. During this time of sports limbo, where professional basketball and hockey reign supreme, at least until the Big East Tournament starts,  baseball fans and restless football fans are filling their brains with the countless Spring Training articles, hoping that this year will be the year their team makes it to October.

I was at work today when someone sent me an outrageous GChat telling me that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had come back to wrestling. While his life changing movies, such as The Tooth Fairy and Doom, led me to become the man I am today, I was more excited to see him back inside a WWE (World Wildlife Fund should be extinct at this point) ring. In addition, this past week’s episode of Glee was titled “Comebacks,” as Rachel Berry, Will Schuster, and Sue Sylvester all were attempting to makes separate comebacks in their personal lives. Now, I understand if no one really knows what I just said, and if you don’t, read this piece I wrote earlier this year, and perhaps your life will become that much better since watching Glee, as mine has  exponentially improved.

This inspired me to make somewhat of a comeback of my own. While I have made predictions in the last year or so in conversations with friends and such, I have never put these predictions down on paper, or the World Wide Web. This year it will start with the upcoming MLB season, running through each division, giving you the order of which the teams will finish, the All-Division team by position, and which three prospects that will make the biggest impact this season with the big league club. Due to the fact that most people I know are New York Mets fans and can always use some sort of an emotional pick me up, I will start this year’s set of predictions with the distorted mess that is the National League East.

National League East 2011 Projected Finish

1. Philadelphia Phillies

2. Atlanta Braves

3. New York Mets

4. Florida Marlins

5. Washington Nationals

NL East All-Division Team

C: Brian McCann, ATL

1B: Ryan Howard, PHI

2B: Chase Utley, PHI

SS: Hanley Ramirez, FLA

3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WSH

OF: Jason Bay, NYM, Jason Heyward, ATL, Mike Stanton, FLA

SP: Josh Johnson, FLA, Roy Halladay, PHI, Cliff Lee, PHI, Tommy Hanson, ATL, Johan Santana NYM

RP: Drew Storen, WSH, Francisco Rodriguez NYM,  Ryan Madson PHI

3 Impact Prospects: Logan Morrison FLA, Dominic Brown PHI, Jenry Mejia NYM

A lot has happened in this division in the past few months. Cliff Lee spurned the Yankees and the Rangers, and decided to rejoin the Phillies, a team that didn’t really need his “talents.” Lee makes the Phillies rotation almost unbeatable in a playoff series, though I think Roy Oswalt is going to be in for a tough season. However, the trio of Halladay, Lee, and  Cole Hamels will be enough to stifle the bats of the NL East, and most of the entire National League. Their offense, though not as explosive as they were a couple years ago, will score enough runs to win around 95 games, and take home the NL East crown.

However, while many are handing the NL East to the Phillies before opening day, I do think they will be in for a dogfight with the always consistent Atlanta Braves. The Braves sport a very respectable rotation and a well rounded lineup, though questions in the bullpen may ultimately derail their season. The New York Mets are the most intriguing team in this division.

We have a fair assessment of how the Phillies and Braves  respective season’s will shake out, but the Mets season can go any which way. Johan Santana is coming off surgery, Jose Reyes is in a contract year and trying to fight the injury bug, David Wright is a male model, Carlos Beltran doesn’t want to keep getting yelled at on the 7 train, the new stadium is a treasure trove for child molesters, Mike Pelfrey’s bipolar disorder on the field could lead to interesting antics off the  field, and K-Rod can choke someone out on 2nd base and no one would be surprised. Though I do think Jason Bay will have a really solid season at the plate, I do not think everything will pan out for the Mets this season, and if all of that young talent in Florida meshes well, the Mets could be fighting off the Nationals for the cellar in the division.

Speaking of those Marlins, it seems as if they are in the same spot every single year, almost like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” only without Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You, Babe” on repeat on the stadium’s sound system. Young outfielders Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison will provide some quality production, as well as some highlight reel plays to amuse the 400 season ticket holders down in South Beach. Josh Johnson returns from a Josh Beckettesque back injury, and if healthy, I think he will be the best pitcher in the division. An added bonus for the Marlins would be if The Akron Scammer shows up to any games. I am sure his entourage alone can fill up the seats behind Home Plate, but Lebron isn’t the kind of guy to create any distractions away from the game, so he”ll probably just watch the  Celtics-Lakers NBA Finals from his couch in June. I wonder if Jim Gray will be invited to watch with him.

That leaves us with the Washington Nationals. They spend over a hundred million dollars to bring in a plus 30 year old outfielder in Jayson Werth. It was a good decision on Werth’s side, and a necessary act of desperation on the Nats side. Werth will get his numbers, and muddle through Washington until Stephen Strasburg is healthy and Bryce Harper hits puberty. Werth may be 34 at that point, but who cares, they took baseball out of Canada, and brought it back to D.C. That has to count for something right?

By Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez

For the first ever installment of the weekly Mustache Awards… Phil, please put your pants back on,. I said mustache awards, not mustache rides… I feel that no introduction is needed. My nom de plum is Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez and I will use this name from here on out as a way of masking myself from this close-friend orgy of self-proclaimed sports writers. I may be the first to admit that sports are not something that sculpted my childhood. I do not remember talking about games with my brothers or throwing the football with my dad. I grew up in a home with an uncoordinated father, three flamboyant sisters, and a compassionate mother. I am very happy to say that I was able to somehow find sports. I do remember seeing some of the greats thanks to my father taking me to games; however, he would bitch that he hates sports the whole drive home.

I discovered sports on my own. First came the pre-90’s lockout NHL (hockey has never been the same), then the NBA years when loyalty meant something,  and then the NFL, which is my personal favorite. I am slowly trying to catch up on MLB, but that is a boring, uphill battle through over 100 years of statistics. As a perceptive reader, you may be asking yourself, “If all other sports aside baseball found their way into the Jets’ heart, why choose an iconic BASEBALL figure from the popular Hollywood film “The Sandlot” as his alias?”

Here is the list of reasons, not in any specific order:

1) Baseball is a sport that all Americans should love! and i almost feel sad that i don’t have a passion for our nation’s greatest past time.

2) I love his Mexican Mustache!

3) The re-imagination of the  movie as “The Sandy Slot”. At the end, instead of the epic chase scene that we all remember, Benny pickling the beast became Benny and Smalls (who did not live down to his name) running train on James Earl Jones (the Beast was in J.E.J.’s trousers).

But enough of me for one week. Here is what you will be getting from me… A few short facts about my life, and more importantly, I will be handing out awards to the astonishing, annoying, incredible, frustrating, miserable, shocking, and everything in between that occurs in the sports related world.

Enough banter, here is this installment of The Moustache Awards:

The “Genius” Award- Andy Reid

In a press conference on April 1st, 2010, Andy Reid stated that Donovan McNabb would remain the starting quarterback in Philadelphia for the 2010 season. We know that was not the case. As quickly as April 4th, the Eagles traded McNabb to the Washington Redskins in return for a second-round pick  (Nate Allen) in the 2010 NFL Draft and a
conditional third- or fourth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

When I first saw that McNabb, AKA Mr. Philly (outside of A.I. when he still had cornrows and the fictional, retarded boxer Rocky) was traded, neigh, traded to a division rival, I had to ask what the hell Andy Reid was thinking. The start of the season for the eagles supported my gasping questions. Before I had the time to realize that Andy Reid was not only a strong branch that stems from the tree of NFL coaching life known as the Great Walsh Tree, or that Andy was also the quarterbacks coach under Mike Holmgren in Green Bay, The Redskins started to crumble and Reid started to look like a wizard.

After finishing 6-10, the noise around McNabb getting benched for Rex Grossman made it seem like they finished 1-15. It looks as though Mcnabb is one and done in our nations capital. Andy Reid gets to sport two beautiful, bushy upper lips with one of this week’s mustache awards!

The “Hideous” award- Al Davis

This basically isn’t sports related at all, but i do need to warn you: If you are eating or have a child in the room please do not click on this link. I found this floating around… I honestly did not even read this article because i could not get passed his photo. Al Davis looks like a child molesting, creepy old man … Or Michael Jackson in his thriller makeup. He looks like he slammed his head for every first round draft bust this decade. Here’s the real story, Al gave the herpes to Tom Cable, who then threw a right cross and busted open Al Davis’ head. Maybe that’s why Al sent Tom home without even enough courtesy for a reach-around. I’m ending this one short because I need to vomit. Hopefully this year with his 1st pick, he’ll take another Kicker and slam his head one more time so I can eat my dinner without the fear of vomiting. Al Davis gets the gross Mustache award!

The “Shit the Bed” Award- The Cleveland Cavaliers Front Office

It is no surprise to anyone that the Cleveland Cavaliers are a worse team now than they were at this time last year. With an 8-37 record, there are plenty of places to point fingers other than towards the beach (South Beach, not the shores of Lake Erie). For me, it is simple; no matter how good a single player is, the upper management still need to be able to have a plan. The way the season is going, it seems as if the front office is treating the season like a bad storm. Since that disloyal tool deserted his brothers, it seems the biggest transaction the Cavs were involved in was them exercising the fourth-year option on J.J. Hickson. I know it must be hard for an organization to recover after losing a player like Lebron, but wait… The year after Michael Jordan decided to strap on cleats, the Chicago Bulls went 55-27. I know this is not a bench mark for how a team must play, but at the professional level, a team with the best record in the NBA (2010 Cavs) should be able to lose their best player and still compete. Please do not tell me that losing a giant Lithuanian also hurt them. I put all of this failure on the Cavs front office. I also think Dan Gilbert handled the loss of Lebron like a pissed off 16 year-old girl, who discovered her boyfriend cheating. Maybe when the season finally ends, Dan will roll out of bed and cleaned all of that shit up. This Mustache is for you Cleveland Cav’s front office!

By Phil Bausk

I looked outside my window this morning from my penthouse in the East Village (Alright ,its a 3 bedroom flex apartment with a kitchen that John Goodman could get stuck in), and I noticed more lovely snow on the ground. Over the last month or so, the city of New York has been pounded with heavy, white snow. Subways have been stopped, buses are virtually non existent, and fat people, including myself, have been racking up the points.

There are a few great things about the snowfall. Firstly, all the attractive women who have to cover up now on a daily basis seem to have more of a reason to show more skin at the gym. It makes for a much more interesting lunch break, and gives me something to look at while I am eating a Subway sandwich on the exercise bike. Secondly, with the commute to work being such a pain, I have had days in my office where I am alone without any supervision. This has led to some outlandish Gchat and Facebook conversations, which have no business being discussed by anyone. In addition, there has been the welcoming of hot chocolate to the company’s coffee machines. While it’s not going to wake me up, it gives me a small reminder about why I love winter in New York.

Finally, as I looked out my window, a growing concern came across my mind. Was I ever going to get my mail from random athletes across the country?!?!?!? I know the Post Office prides itself on delivering the mail in any sort of weather conditions, but I was worried that the vast amounts of snow that had been falling was going to deter my mail carrier from making her way to my lobby.

Well, it took over a month but I finally got my second batch of random letters from athletes. Whether they are staying at the W hotel or the Holiday Inn express, athletes need to ask a random schlub like myself about how to handle their personal and professional lives because as many of us can see from today’s media, they still love to show off their either comically large, or frighteningly small wangs.

Q: “Have I not made it painfully obvious that i NEVER want to play in New Jersey? Trade after trade falls through, I keep hinting how playing at home in NYC is the dream, and my friends, Brooklyn is not Manhattan. Is there something wrong with me? Or should I just suck it up, accept the trade, and waste 6 months of my life?”

C. Anthony Denver, CO

A: Mr. Anthony, I really am not sure what to tell you. The best advice I can give you is that whatever you decide to do, whether it be play out your contract in Denver, or bully a trade to New York, just do it with class. We all saw the backlash that occurred with The Akron Scammer, and you don’t want to follow in his selfish footsteps.

What I would tell you to do is play out your contract and be graceful in your departure from the Nuggets. Play hard every night and try and get that team back to the playoffs. While a first round exit is more than likely, if you go out fighting, the fans will not resent you and in less than a year, you will ultimately get your wish. While talks of a CBA agreement could hurt the amount of money you could get in a contract with the Knicks, your star will shine greater in the bright lights of NYC and you will make that money back faster through advertisements and appearances. This would also start a great rivalry in the east with the Heat and the Knicks, a rivalry the NBA could use. I am sure David Stern has already put this in motion by telling Mikhail Prokhorov to get the hell away from the Nuggets front office or he’ll divulge some interesting information to the Russian CIA.

Q: “Where should I play? I’m a winner, I have the tools to succeed in this league, and I have the weirdest shaped head of any player in the league. Someone should want to pick me up right? Just because I alienated one of the best coaches in football and gave up on a group of 52 guys doesn’t mean I should be penalized right?

V. Young Anywhere but Tennessee

A:It is athletes like Vince Young that piss me off, even more so than guys like the Akron Scammer and company. Vince has a decent amount of talent, as he was blessed with the ability to run, throw, and shove guys in a nightclub, yet he takes it for granted by being an immature and selfish “man,” who tries to bully others into giving into his ways. While his college coach Mack Brown will tell you he was the perfect teammate, I am sure a lot went down on the Austin campus that we do not know about.

Many athletes are able to go out and have nights of debauchery without us hearing much about it. They can also get into spats with their coaching staff and work through it, with us forgetting about it until the next guy does the same thing. VY is on strike 2 as I am concerned and if he isn’t careful, he could end up going the ways of the Akili Smiths and the JaMarcus Russells of the world. The one thing VY has going for him is his ability. While he may not put up the greatest numbers, he finds ways to win games. Vince, just do what your coaches ask you, and if you have a problem with him, don’t go crying to the owner (Who clearly has problems of his own), but use your big paycheck and see a therapist, it’s alright, most of the country does it anyhow.

Q: Dude, after we beat the Jets on Sunday, I am so excited to to down to Dallas and check out the college chicks out there. I already have my 2 Super Bowl rings, I still haven’t gotten my Texas tail. I already asked Mike Wallace to be my wing-man, but he says I’m too pushy.

B. Roethlisberger Pittsburgh, PA

A: Way to go man! One more sexual harassment accusation and you’ll become the only QB with 2 Super Bowl rings or more that won’t be invited to any Post-game parties (Except for maybe Jay Cutler, he just looks like a douche). Firstly, beat the Jets and secondly, No means No.

Q: What should I buy first after signing my new contract? A new car, a house for my momma, or Brian Cashman’s love?

R. Soriano,  Scarsdale, NY I am sure

A: In order to succeed in NY, all you have to do is have a 4 ERA, set up the game for Rivera, and not accidentally cross swords with Jeter, though I’m sure ARod would just say it “slipped.” Do those things, and Brian Cashman will only lose 40 percent of his hair.

Q: I think I finally get why David Stern made players go to college for at least one year. But hey, I’m still making more than Blake Griffin and Kevin Love.

M. Webster, Minneapolis, MN

A: You make more money than they do for now Martell…. And yes, you are right, players like you should’ve gone to college for at least a year. It is obvious to see how both the NCAA and the NBA have benefited from this rule change. So many players from Webster’s era jumped to the NBA to make a quick dollar, when they could’ve refined their games and becomes players with a longer shelf life. If not for the dumb GM’s (KAHHHHNN!!) of the world giving players like Webster and Travis Outlaw big contracts, these guys would be regretting their decisions every day. There is a whole list of guys like Darius Miles,  Kwame Brown, and others who jumped too quickly to the NBA.

The college game today is now more popular than its ever been, with twice as much TV time as it had during the early 2000s. Players like Jared Sullinger are polishing their  games so that they can contribute right away once they are drafted, which will hopefully lead to longer and more productive careers. It also allows  them to play on a better platform to help introduce themselves to the public. Not every high school star is going to be publicized like the Akron Scammer was, and the college game is the perfect place for them to showcase their talent. Assuming things stay the way they are, I can’t see Mr. Webster and Mr. Outlaw getting nice contracts after their current ones run out. Odds are they will be replaced by similar players, who had the benefit of attending college for at least one year.

Q: Can you void retirement papers?

B. Favre, Set of Wrangler Commercial

A: I am not sure, but I don’t put it past you to figure out a way how.

Q: Yo, Can I sell you my dirt bike?

R.Rogers, Durham, NC

A: I am not  touching that one, but there’s a 5% chance that I’ll buy it.

Q: When will people realize that I am the best quarterback in the league? Do I need to do a bunch of crappy commercials with a thick southern accent? Do I have to marry the hottest woman on earth, grow out my hair, and throw up a stinker against the Jets? Or do I have to hope a horrible catastrophy strikes my city so I could lead my team to the promised land?

A. Rodgers, Green Bay, WI

A: Frankly Mr. Rodgers, yes, I think you need one of those things to happen to you in order for you to get into this conversation. Obviously from a career standpoint, you aren’t at the same level as these guys. But right now, if I was picking one quarterback to win a game for my team, I find it hard to pick against Aaron Rodgers. He avoids pressure, has a strong and accurate arm, and makes pre-snap reads just as well as anyone. Even if he leads the Packers to a Super Bowl victory this season, he will not get as much credit as he deserves.

A good idea for Rodgers would be to get a list of the companies Peyton Manning is a sponsor for, and offer his services to their rival company. Next, he should go bald, marry the ugliest chick he can find, but treat her like a queen so the public can see what a nice guy he is, kind of like what Roger Federer is doing (At least I hope). Finally, while there’s not chance of a levee breaking in Green Bay anytime soon, perhaps a cheese famine would suffice as a catastrophe for that part of the country. Families would be forced to eat regular hamburgers as opposed to delicious cheeseburgers. Quesadillas would just be pita bread and chicken and Lunchables would go out of business. Barack Obama could come to town to offer his support, knowing that there isn’t much to do. Finally, this could lead to Rodgers going on an award show, and saying directly into the camera, ‘Barack Obama doesn’t care about white people.”

By Jesse Schneiderman

We all love the ESPN trade machine; at least I know I do. As a lifelong Knicks fan, all I’ve thought about since the Akron Scammer took his talents to South Beach (and perhaps due to karma, lost to the Clippers), are potential trades to continue to improve my favorite team. Assuming the Carmelo mega-deal goes down and the “Nyets” become the “Bizarro-Should’ve-Been-The-2004-Pistons,” New York can stand to make a few moves to better themselves and prepare for a playoff run, which will likely start with the Bulls or the Celtics unless the Knicks can crack the top five. For this reason (and my own obsessions), I’ve come up with the following masterpiece, along with reasons why it should and shouldn’t happen:

Knicks Receive: Jason Thompson (C), Omri Casspi (SF), Charlotte’s 2011 1st round pick (top 10 protected)

Charlotte Receive: Danilo Gallinari (SF), Bill Walker (SG), Anthony Randolph (PF/C)

Sacramento Receive: Gerald Wallace (SF), Andy Rautins (Towel Waving White Guy, er, PG)

Why it Should Happen:

The Knicks need a center. They have made that abundantly clear. Ronny Turiaf is an all-around good guy who has played really well recently, but New York needs a bigger, stronger center to help take the burden off of both Turiaf and Amar’e. Ronny plays less than 20 minutes a game, because he lacks offensive prowess. With Thompson, they get that center, while Omri gives them solid help off the bench, as well as some defense (gasp!), and an Israeli to teach Rabbi Stoudemire some Hebrew. With Wilson Chandler’s impending Restricted Free Agent status, they’re going to need to save money somewhere, so cutting ties with Gallo and getting cheap help through Thompson and Omri is a definite plus. Also, they get a 1st rounder for more cheap help down the line.

Meanwhile, Charlotte receives the cap relief Michael Jordan so desperately craves (or at least he says he does in between holes), a young, potential star in Gallinari, an athletic swingman in Bill Walker, and the undying upside of Anthony Randolph. With this deal, the Bobcats can trot out D.J. Augustine, Walker, Stephen Jackson, Gallo, and Tyrus Thomas if they want a small-ball shooting lineup, or bring Walker off the bench and start Kwame Brown/Nazr Mohammed/Randolph (gulp) if they want a more traditional starting five. Sacramento also benefits here, getting the veteran leader that they desperately need in Gerald Wallace. He also helps to solidify Sacramento’s status as “The Most Hood Team in the NBA” by teaming with Tyreke Evans and Demarcus Cousins, which makes the addition of Andy Rautins to the deal even more comical (in the interest of full disclosure; that’s the only reason he’s in the trade). In Andy’s defense, he does have a fundamental understanding of the 2-3 zone, so that’s something.

Why it Shouldn’t Happen:

Until the Carmelo Anthony deal is done, the Knicks aren’t doing anything. That is a massive hold-up to any deal like this one. Along with that, Charlotte may not be looking to make any moves because they’re finally playing better with Paul Silas at the helm, despite needing to save cash. Sacramento should pull the trigger, seeing as they could use an elder statesman. They’re not playing Thompson or Casspi enough to justify not trading them, and they’re lineup gets a giant upgrade with this deal. With this trade, opponents face a starting five of Beno Udrih, Tyreke Evans, Wallace, Demarcus Cousins, and Samuel Dalembert. Not good by any means, but not bad. Despite that, introducing Cousins and Evans to the potential of more drama in the locker room is something that more than likely scares Geoff Petrie away from making a deal like this.

This trade would benefit all teams involved, however I can’t see it happening quite yet, at least while the Carmelo sweepstakes is still afoot. Hopefully the guys from the Dirty Jerz pull the trigger soon so the Knicks are free to look elsewhere.

By Phil Bausk

After one of the more hectic off-seasons in  the history of the NBA, it is weird to think that we are already nearly halfway done with the season. As the NFL playoffs have distracted many of us from what’s going on in the NBA, there will come a point soon where all we will have to watch is basketball. Starting in February, football season will be over, leaving us with basketball and hockey. Clearly hockey doesn’t count for anything, which means we have to substitute it with something people will actually watch like College Basketball. So until April, when baseball season starts and most Americans are still so bored by baseball that they would rather spend time with their families, there is really only one sport to watch, basketball.

Well before we can look into our crystal ball and see what is going to happen in the world of basketball, lets take a look back and see what has transpired so far in the first half 2010-11 basketball season.

NBA 1st Half MVP: Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls

I am sure a lot of New Yorkers are going to say that Ama’re should be the first half MVP and he definitely has a case for it. However, Derrick Rose has been playing at an extremely high level this season. He is the main reason the Bulls have been able to get to a 25-12 record, despite missing many games from players such as Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah. In addition, Rose has to spend an inordinate amount of time with Brian Scalabrine. This has to to be the toughest task that Rose has faced in his young career. Imagine sitting on the team flight to LA getting ready to player the Lakers, and some big, red-headed doofus takes a seat next to you to try and talk to you about his daily observations. While Timofey Mozgov surely presents a similar problem for Ama’re, Scalabrine has a track record for this sort of thing. Listening to Scalabrine talk is almost like looking at a two legged dog and wondering why it hasn’t been put down yet. Rose deserves more credit than he has received for both his play on the court, and his patience off the court.

NCAABB  1st Half Most Outstanding Player:  Kemba Walker, UConn Huskies

Walker has had a monster year for the Huskies. His season is better than many previous UConn guards such as Ben Gordon, Richard Hamilton, and Ray Allen. The Big East is quietly becoming better every year and I am sure no one knows that better than Jim Calhoun and his Husky team. Walker has led his team to wins over Michigan State and Kentucky, and was the main reason for their latest victory in Texas. There is a certain swagger to being a part of some of college’s premiere programs in college basketball. UNC, Duke, UConn and others carry themselves differently from the teams that aren’t quite there yet. Walker embodies this characteristic every time he walks out onto the court. He struts around the court with a Tony Stark like confidence before every game, but still maintains the same focus Charlie Sheen seems to have every time he meticulously destroys a hotel room. Walker and the Huskies will make a big run in this years NCAA tournament and he will garner much consideration for player of the year.

The First Player To Try (And Fail) And  Replace Lebron James In Cleveland: Jared Sullinger, Ohio State

It is obvious that the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to finish the year with the worst record in the NBA. The loss of Anderson Varejao for the season is the final blow to an already miserable 2010-11 season. I would say the people in Cleveland have something else going for them but the Browns stink, the Indians made zero moves this off-season, and The Akron Scammer is on his way to a number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Assuming the ping pong balls fall the right way for the Cavs, they will get the number 1 pick in the draft and have a tough selection to make.  Jared Sullinger has been dominating the Big 10 so far this season, giving us shades of Greg Oden, only without the noticeable limp and the wear and tear of Father Time.  Sullinger would fit perfectly alongside JJ Hickson and Varajeo as a big body who can score in a lot of different ways and even play some defense if necessary.  If he is the first pick overall, there will be lofty expectations for him to try and replace LBJ, but he will fall short, no matter how good he becomes at the next level. Sullinger could have a very solid NBA career, but if he is unable to turn that Cleveland franchise around, hell be remembered no more than guys like Tyrone Hill or John “Hot Rod” Williams.

As for the rest of the NBA and NCAABB seasons, here is a list of 10 predictions that I think will occur over the next few months:

10. The Memphis Grizzlies will trade OJ Mayo and snag the 8th spot in the Western Conference

Both before and after his recent scuffle with teammate Tony Allen, Mayo has missed a couple games and has performed miserably in the ones he has played in. Meanwhile, Allen has been playing out of his mind, averaging 3 steals per game over his last 6 contests. The Grizzlies are getting back to the formula that helped them become a decent team last season. Let Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph control the paint on the offensive side of the floor, and pressure the wings on defense to force turnovers. Rudy Gay and Allen have done a great job on the defensive side of the ball and will help the Grizzlies make it it to the playoffs, where they will be swept by some team with uglier jerseys.

9. UNC SF Harrison Barnes will break out during ACC play

Barnes, who was projected by many to be next year’s number 1 pick in the NBA draft, has struggled so far in his short college career. He has struggled with his decision making and his ability to consistently put the ball in the basket, the two things he was recruited to do. There is still a lot of the season left, and while I do not expect Barnes to put up Evan Turner and Kevin Durant type numbers, I do not expect him to keep putting up Brian Scalabrine type numbers (if you’re counting, that’s two). ACC play generally opens the door for a lot of scoring, fast paced basketball, a lot different from the slow paced Big 10 games I suffer through once a week or so.  Expect Dick Vitale to be raving about Barnes come ACC tournament time.

8. The Knicks and Celtics will face each other in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs

Bill Simmons tweeted this today, but I have been thinking about this for quite some time now. The Celtics are doing what they always do. They win a ton of games, get beat up a bit, rest their stars, let the Luke Harangodies of the world dominate, and then end up with a 3 or 4 seed in the playoffs. The Knicks are playing at a very consistent level, one synonymous with a potential 6 seed, which is where they stand right now. This would make for a great series, and I am sure David Stern is smiling somewhere with that same smug look he had when fielding questions about The Akron Scammer this summer.

7. Butler will miss this year’s NCAA Tournament

Last year’s March meshuganas are struggling so far this year in the Horizon League without star Gordon Hayward. The only way they can  get in this season is if they win their conference tournament.  A lot of the major conferences have numerous good teams who will have impressive enough resumes to push themselves into the tournament, rather than mid-major schools with sparkling win loss records. Either way we won’t have to look at some really young coach making us seem like all of our life accomplishments are nothing compared to his.

6. The LA Lakers will NOT make it to the NBA Finals

This is a team in trouble. The Lakers haven’t had this much drama within their organization since back in the Shaq and Kobe days. The Zenmaster’s family is growing apart as Ron Artest clearly has his own mantra in mind, and I am sure it has very little to do with peace and love. The Spurs, Mavericks, Jazz, and Thunder are all legitimate foes to the Lakers and at least two of them will stand in the way of the Lakers path back to the finals. I am just hoping something really crazy happens, like Artest calling Pau Gasol an ostrich and then chasing him around the court with a tranquilizer gun. (Is that really more crazy  than him attacking an entire arena?)

5. Michigan State will MISS the Final Four

This is something that doesn’t happen too frequently. While they have a similar team to last year’s squad, Michigan St. has struggled this year due to a deeper Big 10, and inconsistent jump shooting. Tom Izzo’s teams always play great defense and are not unfamiliar with going through scoring slumps. They tend to make shots when they need to, and win games by minimal margins. After their most recent loss to Penn State, it is obvious that a lot of work has to be done by Izzo and his coaches. Don’t expect to see the Spartans wherever Duke may be, come the end of March.

4. Carmelo Anthony will NOT turn any team into a title contender in the next 2 years

Well it seems he’s either going two places, New York or New Jersey. If he were to go to the Knicks, I don’t see him bringing much more than what they already have. The Knicks are the highest scoring offense in the league. Their offense is also efficient, as it is currently in the top 11 in FG%, 3PT%, and FT%. While Melo will bring them a crunch time scorer, he will not help on the other side of the ball, the one area where the Knicks need to improve on vastly. I am pretty sure a team of me and 4 friends can go out against the Knicks tonight and put up an 80 spot. Perhaps in 2 years or so, the Knicks will develop a player or two to become their stoppers, or they will sign someone to do that job. Until then, the Knicks will be a very good playoff team, but perhaps nothing more.

In New Jersey, Melo would bring a lot of excitement to a franchise struggling to put people in the seats. Their roster would take on a whole new look, and the Nets would become a playoff team in the Eastern Conference. However, their roster would not have the look of a championship contender for a few years. They would need to build through the draft and make a splash or two in the free agent market (Calling Chris Paul). Melo would give them the centerpiece that the team has been looking for since Jason Kidd skipped town, as Brook Lopez is no more than a secondary player and is not able to carry a team with the likes Devin Harris. I am pretty sure that means he can’t do it on his own either.

3. Duke will repeat as National Champions, Kyle Singler will get a statue in front of Cameron Indoor Arena

There really isn’t much competition for Coach K and crew this year. After Duke, the next best teams in college are Kansas, Ohio State, and Syracuse. Kansas and Syracuse both struggled with the mediocre Michigan Wolverines, while the Buckeyes are led by freshman and role players, not the best mix for a National Championship (Jared Sullinger is no Carmelo Anthony). Duke should be able to cruise as a number 1 seed throughout the tournament and they should start seeing some real competition by the time they reach the Elite Eight.  Another title would cement Kyle Singler’s legacy at Duke, not only as the ugliest white basketball player of all-time there, but also as one of the oddest looking winner’s of the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player Award.

2. The Boston Celtics will defeat the Dallas Mavericks for the NBA Championship

Yes, I am a homer and will be picking the Celtics to win the championship until all of their players can’t walk and smell like cabbage. The Celts are built for the playoffs and I think the Miami Heat are one year away from completely dominating the East. The Mavs on the other hand are in a bit of a tougher situation. This prediction is only assuming Dirk Nowitzki comes back from his knee injury and can play in the playoffs. They are extremely well balanced with him, even without Caron Butler. Their defense has been at its best since they made the finals in 2006 and I think they have enough to fend off either the Lakers or Spurs in a 7 game series. Either way, the Celts need to send Scalabrine (that’s three) a ring because the guy clearly doesn’t have much going for him in life and can always use a pick me up.

1. Lawrence Frank will NOT read this blog

I have spent years of my life trying to get his attention. Whether it be screaming his name at games, or showing up to his two-story colonial house in the suburbs of Boston, Lawrence Frank has done his best to ignore me. I made this site as an homage to him, but so far there has been no feedback on his part. I set the bar low, hoping that maybe he will call me and tell me to stop driving by his house as he goes out to get his mail. 5 months have gone by and still no phone calls. Maybe a text message to deter me from rummaging through his garbage for something he may have held. 3 months and no text message. I still have time before the season is out to get him to notice me and I will do what it takes to make that happen. Until then, I guess I’ll have to settle for a half eaten orange, or a never used  coach’s clipboard.

By Phil Bausk

Game 4 of the 2003-2004 NBA Playoffs. That was the last time there was a big event at Madison Square Garden that didn’t involve the New York Rangers, Big East basketball, or Dave Matthews (Frankly, other concerts don’t count as a big event. You know it’s a big event when 3 out of every 4 people on Facebook have a status about it and DMB takes the cake on that one).

Last night’s game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics was one of the best sporting events I have ever attended in my young life. MSG was rocking, and there was a great scene during the pregame introductions where fans held orange glow-in-the-dark thundersticks, illuminating the Garden, and creating a tremendous atmosphere. The Celtics won this thriller on a game-winning, mid-range jumper off the hands of Paul “The Truth” Pierce. The Knicks nearly won it at the buzzer, as Ama’re Stoudemire hit a 3-pointer, but it was just milliseconds after time had run out.  The crowd was excited, the players were excited, but more importantly, the media was excited.

This was the sort of game that basketball in New York needed. The Knicks needed to be tested by one of the best teams in the league. The country needed to see how the Knicks would react in the spotlight. But what New York basketball really needed was  a reason for Knicks fans to begin to loathe the Celtics, other then the obvious Boston-New York dynamic (There were a few “Boston Sucks” chants dispersed amongst the crowd. Remember when that used to be true? For the past decade, Boston has an upper hand on this Boston-NY rivalry, but that’s for a separate article).

The Knicks faithful got their catalyst to hate the Celtics, when Pierce spent all week denying that the Celtics and the Knicks were a legitimate rivalry. He even said that the Knicks and Celts will probably become a rivalry when he is out of the league. Pierce is known to be brash when it comes to making public statements, and the platform of a Knicks-Celts rivalry probably made him salivate. He knew he could go a few days refuting the idea of a rivalry, only to come to the Garden and play his heart out, hit the game-winning shot, and then bow to the crowd at center court, infuriating the entire borough of Manhattan.

It was easy to tell from the start that this game meant a lot to both teams. While it meant more to the Knicks, both morally and in the standings, the Celtics refused to be beaten by a team they didn’t see as their equal. Pierce, who may be the most arrogant athlete in Boston sports history, appeared to play his heart out. He continually drove to the hoop, demanded the ball in crunch time, and ultimately won a game for the C’s that they maybe shouldn’t have won.

This is what I, as well as every other Celtics fan, love about “The Truth.” He gives us 110%. There are few athletes in sports who have as much talent as Pierce, and go out and compete like he does (Luckily there are 3 more of them are on the Celtics in Allen, Garnett, and Rondo). He may run his mouth a couple times a year, but Pierce either backs it up, or will try his best to do so.

For over 900 games, Pierce has played his heart out for a wide-range of Celtic teams. He and Antoine Walker (who should ask Pierce for a place to stay) helped carry a below average Celtics team to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2002. This was just 18 months removed from the famous stabbing incident, in which Pierce was stabbed 11 times outside of a Boston nightclub (I’d love to see the Akron Scammer come back  from that).

After that team fell apart, Pierce still played hard for a Celtics franchise that wanted to trade him. In classic Pierce fashion, he expressed his displeasure through the media, but continued to try and win games for the C’s. This situation reached a tipping point when Pierce sat out most of the 2006-2007 season due to “significant injuries.” This was a rare occurrence in his career in which Pierce let his emotions get the best of him and let it effect his play on the court. It was Pierce’s frustration with Danny Ainge and management that led to the acquisitions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

While last night’s game was just another notch on Pierce’s belt, it proved once again that when you need a last second shot, there are few guys in the league you would rather go to than “The Truth.”

Doesn’t this quote from Pierce give you all the confidence in the world in him?

“I love these type of environments,” Pierce said. “It’s rare when you get these type of environments in the regular season. There’s only so many games you circle on the schedule, where you say, ‘Hey, this is going to be a playoff-type atmosphere, a playoff-type game.’

On the other side of the ball, the Knicks have to be happy with their efforts. While they didn’t come out on top, they have earned the respect of the Celtics, and with another strong showing against the Miami Heat on Friday, they can cement themselves as a legitimate playoff team. While they aren’t at contender level yet, and have a lot of work to do to get there, this team that GM Donnie Walsh has put together has pumped life, not only back into the Garden, but into the streets of New York.

Orange and blue are now making their way back into the wardrobe of New Yorkers. There are Stoudemire, Gallinari, and Felton jerseys being worn around the city, as opposed to seeing old school Patrick Ewing and John Starks throwbacks. The Knicks are like that girl in high school who wasn’t all that attractive back in the day, but when you have your mini reunions after college, you start to see that she wasn’t that bad looking in the first place. All she needed was some time away from home, better looking guys in college to make herself want to appear more attractive, and four years of becoming a “seasoned veteran.”

I plan on attending more Knicks games this season (and seeing Blake Griffin poop on another New York Knick’s head), and hope that the Garden can maintain this level of enthusiasm. While it may take a few more games like last night, things are definitely looking up for basketball in New York.

As for Pierce, it’s a shame he doesn’t get as much credit as deserves for the career he has put together so far. If he plays long enough, which I doubt, he can become the all-time leading scorer for the Celtics. He WILL pass Larry Bird on that list, and while he will never be compared to Bird or other past C’s, he has cemented a spot in the Pantheon of great Boston Celtics. Whether you like him or not, there’s not denying that Paul Pierce is nothing but “The Truth.”