The Starting Lineup: Rudy Gay Brings Raptors Deliverance

I still don’t like the trade from a business standpoint, but Rudy Gay proved his basic on-court worth to the Raptors in a 100-98 overtime victory in Indiana.  Though Gay experienced just mixed success (9-25 from the floor) going one-on-one against a stingy defender in Paul George, he did come through with 17 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including the game-winning jump shot with 1.7 on the clock.  Say what you will about “hero ball,” but not since Vince Carter have the Raptors had a player capable of creating this sort of shot on a consistent basis.

Foolishly, I decided to give up on this game near the end of the fourth quarter, when David West (30 points) made a pair of free throws to put the Pacers up four with 10 seconds to play.  How’d the Raptors pull off the improbable?  Well, Amir Johnson got his Tracy McGrady on, scoring four points in six seconds.  As well as he played, this was basically David West’s fault.  It appears that he was angry about Johnson’s first offensive rebound/score, leading him to make one of the most regrettable inbound passes since Anthony Carter in the ’09 Conference Finals.  Frustration in the game of basketball is something that every player deals with, but West has to cope with his emotions more gracefully than he did here.  He basically just grabbed the basketball, took a quick step backwards (I’m not even convinced that he was completely out of bounds), and angrily hucked the ball in the direction of a guarded Lance Stephenson.  Had he simply taken a moment or two to think the Pacers likely win this game in regulation.

The Raptors have suddenly won two of their last five games decided by five points or less.  Considering their luck (or lack thereof) during the first half of the season, two-and-three ain’t so bad.  This victory actually snaps a streak of three consecutive overtime losses for the Raps.

The Bobcats’ dominance over the Lakers is a thing of the past, mostly because they can’t seem to sustain large advantages.  In a pair of losses to the Lakers, the Bobcats have blown 38 points worth of leads (18 in LA and 20 in Charlotte), which is pretty much the most depressing possible way to be swept in a season series.  On Friday night, the Bobcats established their 20-point cushion on the strength of their fast break, which produced 24 points.  The defensively-challenged, athletically-impaired Lakers struggled mightily to keep up as the Bobcats ran them into the ground off of their own turnovers.  Charlotte pulled out to a 20-9 lead as Los Angeles coughed it up an astounding six times in the game’s first nine minutes, and they continued to build on their lead through the early part of the third, extending it to the aforementioned 20 points.  Then the game slowed down, and it was all Lakers — and by all Lakers, I mean 53-27.  Not surprisingly, Kobe Bryant posts and isolations (6-15, 20/7/8) proved to be more effective than Byron Mullens jumpers (8-18, 20/12/1) when the game slowed to a crawl.  Kemba Walker was able to make a couple of nice individual plays down the stretch, but Kobe elevated his play to another level of dominance.  He scored 14 fourth-quarter points, and when the Bobcats tried to double (or even triple) he passed out effectively, leading to open three-pointers for Steve Nash and Jodie Meeks.  The Lakers ended up taking it 100-93 after a 31-15 fourth quarter.

Like the Bobcats, the Timberwolves blew a sizable lead against the Knicks.  Having been up by double digits as late as the 6:55 mark of the fourth quarter, the Wolves had their offense firing on all cylinders; Ricky Rubio was brilliant, scoring 18 points of his own and facilitating for teammates such as Derrick Williams and Nikola Pekovic, who combined for 35 points.  Pekovic was a dominant force in the third quarter, scoring nine points in approximately three minutes as the Wolves began to establish their advantage.  In the fourth quarter, however, Pekovic was a non-factor.  The Wolves went away from him completely, essentially reducing his role to screener (he didn’t take a single shot in the period).  Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony entered beast-mode.  He scored 12 of the Knicks’ 21 in the last 6:26, and made it look awfully easy against an inexperienced defender in Derrick Williams (this would’ve been Andrei Kirilenko’s assignment had he been playing).  As Melo put New York on his shoulders (36 points, 13-26), the Wolves struggled to locate good looks in the halfcourt.  Their last two possessions that mattered consisted of Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour putting their heads down and driving the ball into the teeth of the Knicks’ defense.  Both attempts reeked of desperation and were erased quite effortlessly by Tyson Chandler.  The Knicks took the fourth quarter 30-18 and the W by a margin of 100-94.

Jason Kidd’s 12,000th career assist led to the JR Smith three that sparked New York’s big fourth-quarter run.  Kidd also assisted on another key score by JR Smith, this one a transition layup that put the Knicks up three with 19 seconds to go.  Dante Cunningham made a terrible play, fouling JR with his body whilst allowing the layup to be finished up top.  The free throw pretty much iced the game.

The Golden State Warriors are now 0-3 on their four-game road trip.  They lost a close one, 99-93, in Memphis on Friday, and they looked like the Warriors of old as they did so.  Though the larger Grizzlies only finished with a one-rebound edge on the offensive glass (nine-rebound advantage overall), their size and prowess in the paint and on the boards was the difference down the stretch.  Twelve of the Grizzlies 22 fourth-quarter points were scored by Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, who secured three offensive rebounds in two Grizzly possessions between the 5:15 and 3:50 marks.  Gasol scored on the first possession, and then Randolph on the next, putting the Grizzlies up by four.  Never again were the Warriors able to close to within three points.

How inconspicuously-smooth is Marc Gasol? He has the outward appearance of a lumbering stiff, but he’s as nimble as any seven-footer in the league.  Look at him here as he runs the floor and finishes with a graceful reverse layup, and observe the fluidity of his sweeping hook shot.  I know it’s old news, but the younger Gasol is such a well-rounded player.  His skill set is rivaled by few big men in the league today, and not really rivaled by anyone as large as he is (7’1”, nearly 300 pounds).  He finished with 20/11/5 in this win over the Warriors.

“Pft.” Those were my complete thoughts on Al Jefferson scoring for a sixth consecutive time during an individual 12-6 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters of Utah’s eventual loss to Chicago.  Jefferson was absolutely absurd during that stretch, raining jumper after jumper as the Jazz took the lead.  His last shot was the most ridiculous; it didn’t even appear that he was trying to make it, but rather attempting to draw a foul on Taj Gibson.  As he leaned in and created a fair amount of contact with his shoulder, he somehow tossed it in from 18 feet.  Unfortunately for the Jazz, however, this would be Big Al’s final field goal.  His 32 points and 13 boards were all for naught…

…mostly because Carlos Boozer. The least-popular man in the building, who’d been thoroughly outplayed for three and a half quarters, went on to score 11 straight points of his own, and he scored them in the most timely of manners.

As you can see, the Jazz had a fair bit of trouble containing the Booze-Belli pick-and-roll, terrible pun intended.  Boozer finished with 19 and 5.  Reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week Nate Robinson (I freaking love saying this) was a non-factor in the fourth, but his 18 and 9 through 36 minutes helped the Bulls stay in the running.  Again, terrible pun intended.

LeBron?  He was a’ight. Dropped 30 on 11 shots (half of them threes) as Miami won their fourth straight, this one over the healthy Clippers by a comfortable margin of 22.  In all seriousness, though, this has pretty much been the standard LeBron outing in the month of February.  He’s averaging 31 PPG on SEVENTY-THREE percent (!!!) from the floor over his last four.  Can you say, “M-V-P?”

On the subject of people playing out of their minds, how about James Harden?  He had 35/7/11 in a 118-103 victory over the Blazers.  This obviously comes in the wake of his 36/12/7 performance in a tough loss to LeBron and the Heat.  All of February’s numbers belong to people named James, apparently.  Watch out for that Mike James 40-point explosion (he’s still on the Mavericks, right?).

The Nets continued their recent suckery in an 89-74 loss to the Wizards of Washington.  I didn’t see any of the game, but I can tell you that the Brooklyn boys shot 33% from the floor and have now lost five of their last eight.  Rumor has it that the front office is none too pleased with the team’s regression, and trade options are being explored.  The hottest rumor is Kris Humphries to Charlotte for Ben Gordon.  Humphries has played fewer than 10 minutes in four of the last five games (eight last night), indicating that he is in fact the odd man out.

Michael Beasley points-to-shots watch: 509 points, 511 shots.  Latest outing: 25 points, 10-16 (L, 127-96).

Box Score Observation, Kendrick Perkins Edition: Big Perk scored 17 points, his highest total as a member of the Thunder (and in over three calendar years), in a 31-point victory over the Suns.  Marcin Gortat and Jermaine O’Neal have reportedly been sent to the D-League (not really, but they probably should be).

Box Score Observations: Kyle Korver made a three-pointer for the 43rd game in a row, breaking a Hawks franchise record previously held by Mookie Blaylock.  The Hawks lost to the Pelicans, though, 111-100.  Sir Charles Villanueva bopped five of nine three-point attempts on his way to 21 points as the Pistons defeated the Duncan-less Spurs 119-109, thus ending San Antonio’s 11-game win streak.  Marreese Speights went 12-12 from the charity stripe in a 119-108 Cavalier victory over the Magic, who’ve lost 12 in a row and 23 of 25.

Highlight Recap, I’m Ready To Be Done With This Edition:

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Dumb Things Reggie Miller Says: 2/7/13 Edition

Reggie Miller is one of the greatest shooting guards of all time. This, we know. He’s responsible for countless breathtaking moments and must-see classics. But now he is a broadcaster, and he wastes the majority of his breath spewing ill conceived (and often blatantly incorrect) analysis. This, we hate.

To make Thursdays a little more fun I’ve come up with this column. Each week, I will highlight some of Miller’s most egregious errors in this space. I’ve also created a petition to get Miller off TNT that I encourage you to sign. Now, let’s get right into it.

He starts talking about how Denver is the best offensive rebounding team in the league. This is partially correct. They are tied with Memphis in raw offensive rebounds per game, but this doesn’t mean anything. With the pace the Nuggets play at, they throw up a lot more shots and thus have the chance to grab many more offensive rebounds. When you look at offensive rebounding rate aka the percentage of available offensive rebounds a team grabs, Memphis is clearly in front of them. Miller has well documented his hate for advanced stats, but I just don’t see how this isn’t a better way to measure offensive rebounding.

Contradictory analysis begins when he notes that he didn’t think Denver was a good defensive team (For the record: they are a slightly above average defensive team, sitting at 13th in the league), but that it was a pleasant surprise how they were getting after it. Then, in the third quarter, he says Denver is probably the league’s best team at creating offense out of defense, which of course requires them to… well… uh… play good defense! But remember, Denver totally isn’t a good defensive team, at least not according to Miller two quarters earlier. For the record, it’s clear that Denver isn’t the league’s best team at creating offense out of defense. The Clippers are better in points off of turnovers, overall offense, and overall defense. A little bit of research wouldn’t kill you, Reg.

Then, late in the first quarter, he started spewing some nonsense about how Denver was killing the Bulls with points in the paint. At this point, Denver had 31 total points, 12 of those coming in the painted area.  That’s 38.7 percent. In an average game this season, the Nuggets score 104.7 points with 56.6 of those coming in the paint — that’s a whopping 54% of their offensive output. So when Miller went on this tirade about how the Bulls had to limit Denver’s points in the paint, Denver was actually scoring in the paint at a lower rate than normal.

The crew then went into talking about the ascent of second-year guard Jimmy Butler and how important he has been to the Bulls (and nobody is denying this). Miller then stated that Butler allowed Coach Tom Thibodeau to put Luol Deng at the four and Butler at the three without the defense suffering. This is simply a factually incorrect statement: when playing this lineup the Bulls’ defense suffers, 4.6 points per 100 possessions worse than Chicago’s normal starting lineup to be precise. That’s about the difference between the best defense in the league (Indiana) and the ninth best (Milwaukee). Now, having the ninth best defense in the league is nothing to scoff at, but to say this switch doesn’t hurt the defense is just plain wrong.

Moving along, Kenneth Faried had a really good game (21 points, 12 rebounds). To say he is a bonafide superstar, though, is stupid. At this point, Faried is conceivably the 14th best power forward in the game, right behind players like Ryan Anderson, Serge Ibaka, and Paul Millsap and in a group that contains Tristan Thompson (putting up really good numbers by the way) and Carlos Boozer. I doubt that even Miller, if he took a moment to consider the matter, would call any of those five players a “bonafide superstar” on national television.

Next, Miller begins to gush his praises for Nate Robinson, calling him “consistent” and lauding his ability to hit big shots.  Such traits, according to Miller, have helped this ragtag Bulls team survive through all their injuries. Thing is, Robinson has played 18 games this season in which he’s scored less than 10 points, and 12 games where he’s had more than 20. Additionally, in situations with under five minutes remaining and with a margin of five points or less, Robinson is shooting 9-30 from the field. I’ll just allow those two statistics speak for themselves.

Finally, the crew gets into discussing how successful the Bulls have been this season. The first two names out of Miller’s mouth are Luol Deng and Joakim Noah. The third is Kirk Hinrich, who brings to the table a sub-40 percent chance at making each of the six shots he takes per game.


Follow Jacob on Twitter @Jacob_Frankel.
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Be Cautiously Optimistic About The 2013 Slam Dunk Contest

Basketball fans enjoyed two pleasant surprises as this year’s Slam Dunk Contest participants were announced.  Firstly, the NBA caught us all off guard by going with six contestants.  This used to be the norm (as many as nine have dunked in the past), but the league reduced he number of dunkers to four following the 2001 contest.  More dunkers obviously means more dunks, so six is better than four.  Secondly, the NBA absolutely nailed its selections.  All four players I suggested — James White, Gerald Green, Terrence Ross, and defending champion Jeremy Evans — are in, as well as Eric “Mini LeBron” Bledsoe and Kenneth “Manimal” Faried (who apparently thought the contest took place during Thursday night’s game against the Bulls).  My six-man field would’ve included DeAndre Jordan rather than Faried, but that’s an extremely minor gripe (rumor has it the league actually asked DJ, but he refused).  What’s really important here is that James White and Gerald Green are in.  Finally.

For years, James White and Gerald Green have represented the dream dunk contest matchup we thought we’d never get to see (except for in Russia).  Despite their almost unprecedented athleticism, each has struggled to hang in the NBA.  Neither was in the league at the start of last season, and both are presently the last men off of their respective teams’ benches.  Green has actually been cut from a Chinese team more recently than he appeared in his last dunk contest, and White had been out of the league since 2009 prior to signing with the Knicks last summer.  Not long ago it seemed unlikely that either would ever appear in another NBA game, let alone a dunk contest.

Now that the unlikely has come to fruition, many are suggesting that next Saturday’s dunk contest could be the greatest of all-time.  Based on the field, it should be.  However, I suggest that you be cautious in your optimism for a couple of different reasons.  Consider primarily that the dunk contest has not been on life support for a lack of athleticism; it’s been the gimmicks, the formats, and the fan voting that have ruined it.  Unfortunately, at least two of these issues will undoubtedly remain relevant in 2013, with the biggest problem likely to be yet another new format.  Allow me to explain.

For the first time ever, All-Star Weekend will be structured as an East vs West showdown.  Points will be awarded to the Conference of the winner of each Saturday night competition, and when all four events are finished there will be one ultimate victor.  Sounds all well and good, especially considering that it’s all for charity, but it presents a little problem in regards to our dream dunk contest matchup.  Namely, James White and Gerald Green can’t go head-to-head in the second and final round, as they both hail from the Eastern Conference.  This means that one of them will be limited to just two slam dunks, which is obviously a goddamned shame.  We’ll have to hope that White and Green tie with a pair of perfect scores in the first round, resulting in a dunk-off to determine the Eastern finalist.

And that stupid fucking fan vote.  They open it before the championship round even begins.  Rather than cast a meaningless vote, wouldn’t most fans prefer to see the most deserving dunker win?  Judges, though not perfect, are typically capable of making the right decision.  The fan voting system, on the other hand, turns the whole thing into a popularity contest (fortunately, none of the players involved are all that popular).

On a positive note, I’m quite certain that we’ll see some of the all-time greatest dunks in the history of the contest.  I wouldn’t even be surprised if we see the most incredible overall display of dunks ever.  With two past champions, one living legend, and three more astonishing athletes, the field is stronger than ever.  Surely some unprecedented shit is about to go down.  That said, the flawed format is liable to leave a deserving finalist on the outside looking in, and the fan vote always presents potential for disaster.  No matter how well the contestants perform, this contest will likely feature some unfortunate developments, thus excluding it from the “greatest of all-time” discussion.

All things considered, I suggest that you be cautiously optimistic about the 2013 Slam Dunk Competition.  Prepare to see some dunks you’ve never seen on this stage, but be equally prepared for shenanigans.  Concern yourself not with who advances or wins, but with the magnitude of each individual jam.  Treat it like more of a showcase and less of a contest, as the showcase is likely to be spectacular but the contest flawed.

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POTD 2/6/13: Ivan Johnson on Ed Davis

Centuries ago, Sir Isaac Newton told us that objects in motion tend to stay in motion.  For this reason, no man without a death wish really has any desire to position himself in the path of a speeding Ivan Johnson.  Even other NBA players, who are quite large and competitive themselves, are hesitant to get in his way.  Recently, as if he’s suddenly realized just how frightening he truly is, Ivan has begun to exploit this advantage.  It seems that not a Hawks game goes by nowadays in which Johnson doesn’t get at least one coast-to-coast dunk, where he just grabs the rebound and takes off dribbling.  It basically works 100% of the time because nobody steps up to stop the ball.  That’s not what happened on this particular play, but as you watch Johnson fill the lane like a boulder crashing down the side of a mountain you’ll understand precisely what makes him such a weapon in transition, with or without the ball.

“You want me to take a charge, coach?  That’s a six-foot-eight, 255-pound man who is banned for life from the Korean Basketball Association.  Fuck that.” –Many of Johnson’s opponents, probably.

The most honorable of mentions to DeAndre Jordan, who showed off an improved post game as he put on a dunking exhibition against Orlando.  As powerful as he was, though, none of his individual dunks top that of Ivan Johnson (as if I’d dare say otherwise).

Dunk rating on the Starbury Nastiness Scale:


2012/13 Daily Poster Stats

Throwback Poster of the Day: If anyone ever is foolish enough to cross Ivan’s path, this is basically what will happen (except for the part where the defender lives to tell about it).

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The Starting Lineup: Celtics Keep The Streak Alive

In their first road test since Rajon Rondo’s injury, the Celtics were able to come back from 10 down at the start of the fourth quarter to beat the Raptors 99-95 and extend their win streak to five games.  The catalyst in the rally?  LeAndro Barbosa, who scored 11 of his 14 points in the fourth.  Barbosa’s energy at both ends of the floor sparked a dramatic turnaround in which the Celtics went from being outscored 34-19 in the third to winning the fourth 30-16.  The Raptors, who’d finished the third on a 10-2 run, suddenly looked atrocious to start the fourth.  Their first four shots were ugly misses from beyond 21 feet, and as they continued to settle for jumpers their offense became more and more stagnant.  It often seemed as though they didn’t even cross halfcourt until there were just six or seven seconds on the shot clock, and their attack essentially consisted of everyone standing and watching as Kyle Lowry dribbled aimlessly.  Quite honestly, I believe it was as poor an offensive quarter as I’ve seen played by any team this season.

Kevin Garnett had a fantastic outing, leading the Cs with 27 points and 10 boards.  It’s a damn good thing he did, too, because Paul Pierce, Jeff Green, and Jason Terry combined to go 5-20 from the floor.  Along with Barbosa, Garnett was at his best when it mattered most, scoring 11 of his own in the fourth.  While most of his teammates couldn’t have fallen from a boat and hit water, The Big Ticket was executing complex maneuvers fit for an Olympic diving competition…

As you can see, Andrea Bargnani made his return from a 26-game absence.  He did so to a smattering of boos, which upset Dwayne Casey but didn’t appear to faze nor inspire Bargnani, who had a typical Bargs game of 13 points and 3 rebounds on 5-10.

LeBron’s incredible play continued in a 114-108 Heat victory over the Rockets.  James, who’s been averaging 30 points on 60% from the floor and 40% from three over his last 12, posted his third consecutive 30-point game as he hogged the stats until he’d had his fill (32/6/5).  In the stead of Chris Bosh (illness), who has also been playing exceptionally well as of late, Dwyane Wade stepped up to score 31 points of his own.  This is just the second time all season that LeBron and Dwyane have each topped 30 in the same game.

Despite trailing by double figures for most of the third quarter and even part of the fourth quarter, the Rockets were able to get back in this thing.  After having failed to score between the 11:38 and 7:22 marks of the fourth, Houston came surging back thanks mostly to James Harden, who scored 11 straight points to bring his squad to within three.  From that point, though, Miami displayed their defensive prowess by drawing charges (legitimate charges, no flops) on consecutive possessions.  It then became a free-throw shooting contest and the Heat sealed the deal.

James Harden, though. With 36 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists… he was pretty incredible.  Observe his abuse of Ray Allen at :35, and his discarding of LeBron James at 1:30 and 3:00 (yes, he cooked LeBron twice)…

The Nets eked out much-needed victory in Detroit, where they defeated the Pistons 93-90.  Both teams were pretty sketchy down the stretch as they each failed to score for stretches of more than two minutes, but a couple of big buckets by Deron Williams and Brook Lopez made the difference for the Nets — that and a missed free throw by Greg Monroe.  Had he been able to deliver, Monroe’s free throw would’ve tied the game with 33 seconds to play.  So, instead of being down two after Monroe proceeded to allow Lopez to back him down and score a layup, the Pistons trailed by three and were ultimately forced to play the fouling game.  What I’m getting at here is that Greg Monroe, despite his impressive line of 23 points and 10 rebounds, kind of blew it.  Williams and Lopez, on the other hand, had just 12 and 17 points respectively, but were able to manufacture important hoops late in the fourth quarter.

Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson combined for 58 points in an encouraging display of hope for Cleveland.  The young core missed just 10 of their 34 attempts from the floor, though the whole thing ought to be taken with a grain of salt as the aforementioned floor was that of the Time Warner Cable arena, home of the Charlotte Bobkittens.  This 122-95 defeat is the fifth in a row for the ‘Cats, who’ve not beaten the Cavaliers since Boris Diaw went off for 26/11/7 on March 30th of 2011.  Good times, relatively speaking (Charlotte won 34 games that season, which is nearly twice as many as the 18 they’ve won since).

The Golden State Warriors suffered their second blowout loss in as many nights, losing 119-98 in Oklahoma City.  The Thunder, already out to avenge a hotly-contested, 104-99 loss (January 23rd, the one where Scotty Brooks thought it’d be a good idea to run a play for Kendrick Perkins), apparently drew some extra motivation from the demonstrative habits of the Warriors’ bench.  Said Kevin Martin, who contributed 21 points in the onslaught: “Coach Jackson should talk to a couple of his bench players and make sure they get wet behind the ears before they come barking at a couple of our players.”

Mark Jackson and company sure aren’t making any friends on this road trip.  Not that they should care.  Jackson is likely more concerned by the fact that his team has given up 259 points — nearly three games worth for a Memphis or an Indiana — in their last two outings.  Looking like the Warriors of old, these Warriors are.

Sorry guys, but that’s all I’ve got today.  I allowed myself to go to sleep last night without doing two things — finishing this post and setting an alarm.  Fatal mistake.  I’ll try not to let it happen again.  As a sign of my regret, I give to you some Rubio magic.  Please forgive me.

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James White Guarantees Dunk Contest Victory

I’m not exactly sure what Dwyane Wade has to do with the selection of Slam Dunk Contest participants, but apparently something because James White is promising to win* if Wade picks him as a contestant.  About a week ago, a rumor began to spread indicating that Wade has already made whatever decision he gets to make and that the man they call “Flight” will in fact partake in the competition.  This came as welcomed news to all those familiar with the 30-year-old Knickerbocker’s aerial exploits, as All-Star Saturday Night has been on life support for a while now.  White claims that he can resuscitate it.  Via ESPN

“Whatever I do is going to be new. It’s not going to be seen in the NBA dunk contest. You’ve seen it maybe on YouTube, but you haven’t seen it on the NBA stage. You’ve seen windmills. Everything they do has to be with gimmicks, which is what’s making it corny.”

“I have a dream of doing something, but I can’t tell you what it is. I told some guys and they were like, ‘Nah, you can’t do that.’ Then somebody else brought up another one, and that’s a good idea. The dunk I’m talking about is crazy. I don’t think nobody thought of that. If they did, they wouldn’t think they can do it. It’s not too difficult, but it’s crazy. Somebody actually has to help on that one.”

White is most known for the arsenal of dunks he is capable of performing from the free-throw line.  He can do a windmill and go between the legs — neither of which has ever been done from such a distance in the NBA’s dunk contest — and he can also pull off a legitimate foul-line dunk (foot behind, not on, the line).  Considering the ridiculousness of what we know he can do, who the hell knows what he might do.  Fortunately, it appears as though we’re going to find out.  Hopefully Gerald Green, who White says has “the most hops in the league, hands down (referring to Green’s incredible two-foot jumping ability)” will be his competition.

*White guaranteed victory in the 2001 McDonald’s All-American Dunk Contest and went on to lose to David Lee.  That said, White was by far the most impressive contestant.  If memory serves me correct he either got robbed or missed one at the end.  White also lost the 2006 NCAA Dunk Contest to David Noel after missing his signature between-the-legs jam.  Again, though, he threw down by far the most remarkable dunks.
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POTD 2/5/13: Kobe Bryant on Gerald Wallace & Kris Humphries

In today’s recap post I mentioned that Kobe Bryant twice torched Gerald Wallace for point-blank scores in crunch time.  It was a vague but factually-correct description of what had happened, as Bryant indeed scored a go-ahead dunk as well as another key layup.  That said, my brief depiction, though accurate, just might constitute the understatement of the century.  I put it that way on purpose because I wanted to preserve the hype for this Poster of the Day segment.  It just so happens that one of Kobe’s “point-bank scores” — the go-ahead dunk — was also one of the filthiest throw downs of the season to date.  Behold:

Bryant and his Lakers haven’t exactly been putting together a season to remember, but I suppose we were all fools for failing to consider that this was his first ever visit to the Barclays Center.  I refuse to believe it a coincidence that Kobe’s single most spectacular play of this 17th season took place in his inaugural appearance at the billion-dollar building, which makes this whole scenario all the more Kobe and therefore all the more epic.  The Mamba always leaves its mark.

Note: 6/10 for DeAndre Jordan on Nene, which happened on the 4th.  I didn’t know about it so it never got posted.

Dunk rating on the Starbury Nastiness Scale:


2012/13 Daily Poster Stats

Throwback Poster of the Day: Antonio Davis on Ben Wallace…

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The Starting Lineup: The Time Samuel Dalembert Scored 35

With four minutes and 22 seconds to go in the first quarter of Milwaukee’s eventual loss to the Nuggets, Samuel Dalembert checked in.  Seven minutes and 26 seconds later, Dalembert had 14 points.  Come halftime, he had 21.  On the first possession of the fourth quarter, he topped 30.  At that point he’d missed just one shot, and having made 15, he was actually besting LeBron James’ incredible 13-14 performance from Monday night.  Slammy D would go on to make one more field goal before finally missing a few, but he still finished with a ridiculous 35 points on 17-21.  Needless to say, all of those numbers are career highs (they have to be; I’m not even going to look it up).

Samuel Dalembert sets a Bucks season standard for field goals in a game (via SBNation).

Despite Samuel Dalembert scoring 19.2% of his total points this season in 27 minutes and 7 seconds, the Bucks managed to lose by eight, 112-104.  My theory is that Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis sabotaged Dalembert’s effort.  After all, it’s not like Jennings and Ellis to play so erratically as to turn the ball over three times in the last two minutes whilst also going a combined 0-2 from the floor.  Oh wait…

Anyway, if you’re curious to see what Samuel Dalembert scoring 35 points looks like (and you know you are), here are his complete highlights…

ROFLMAO @ Nuggets’ color commentator Scott Hastings saying, “you can’t let Dalembert come in and do that” after he scored his first field goal.  Like the rest of us, Scotty obviously failed to foresee Sammy Dumbles making 16 more baskets this season, let alone in this game.  Also, it turns out the Nuggets could in fact allow Dalembert to come in and do that.  After all, he did, and they won.

And here’s Kenneth Faried with the missed dunk of the year…

Who even tries to two-foot leap from beyond the dotted line and posterize Larry Sanders?  That’s why they call him “The Manimal,” I suppose.

Danilo Gallinari led the Nuggets with 22 points and made this circus shot to ensure victory/score Nuggets fans some inexpensive tacos (nope, they’re not even free in Denver).

Who are these Indiana Pacers? Just two nights after dropping 111 on the stingy Chicago Bulls, Paul George and company scored 114 points in a comfortable victory over the Hawks, who finished with 103.  Only four times all season have the Pacers reached the 110-point milestone, and not until that aforementioned matchup with the Bulls had they done it in a non-overtime scenario.  Indiana still ranks second to last in PPG at 92.8, but they’ve topped 100 in 7 of their last 11 and are averaging 99.27 PPG over the same stretch.  For the record, they’ve gone 7-4 (.636) and are now 30-19 (.612) on the season.

Unfortunately, neither the performance of Paul George (29 points, 5-9 from three) nor any other player took precedent in this contest.  Three other uniformed participants — Bill Kennedy, Josh Tiven, and Scott Wall — stole the show instead.  Despite what the final score indicates, this was anything but a fast-paced shootout.  An excessive total of fifty-nine fouls were called, including one flagrant and one technical, that led to 68 free-throw attempts as well as one lengthy delay in the action.  For reasons unclear to anyone but the three officials, it literally took upwards of 10 minutes to assess a questionable flagrant penalty one to Al Horford for dropping his arms atop a driving DJ Augustin.  The confusion apparently stemmed from the timing of the foul, as Horford’s blow to Augustin was preceded by an inadvertent Augustin elbow to Horford’s testicles.  As he explained the situation to both coaches, head referee Bill Kennedy could be heard saying, “it’s a flagrant one even though he got hit in the nuts.”  Apparently, his coming to this conclusion required that he huddle with his fellow officials, go to the replay monitor, huddle again, go back to the replay monitor, and ultimately stop the game for nearly a quarter’s worth of running time.  It seems to me that Bill Kennedy simply enjoys stalling.  He caused this game to last 17 minutes longer than any of Tuesday’s other contests and displayed his utter shamelessness by calling an incredibly ironic delay of game on the Pacers.

Josh Smith made his first jump shot of the evening… then, to the surprise of no seasoned NBA spectator, proceeded to have one of those games.  He finished 4-12 with 9 points and 4 turnovers.  I’m going to laugh really hard when some idiot and his losing organization actually make Smith the “max player” he believes he is.  You just know some sucker is going to make it happen.

Ivan Johnson vs Tyler Hansbrough happened. In throwback jerseys, no less.

Surprisingly, suddenly-not-so-psycho-anymore T lived to tell about this.

Ironically, the outspoken Gerald Wallace was the primary catalyst in the latest example of “typical Nets basketball.”  Wallace was absolutely horrendous down the stretch as the Nets, who led 83-82 with 2:32 to go, fell to the Lakers 92-83.  Despite being left virtually unguarded, he was unable to make important shots from the perimeter, and his attempts to drive the ball to the basket were equally unsuccessful.  During the most troubling sequence of his 3-10 outing, Wallace missed consecutive shots and threw the ball away to blow Brooklyn’s last three offensive opportunities.  Additionally, Kobe Bryant had his way with Crash at the other end of the floor, twice toasting him for point-blank scores.  The Nets’ honeymoon with PJ Carlesimo appears to be over as the team is now 2-4 in their last six.

The big news from this game is a potential injury to the foot of Pau Gasol.  The immobilized Gasol has already been struggling with a variety of leg, foot, and emotional issues, so this could be yet another setback for the troubled Lakers.  According to the LA Times, Pau heard a “pop.”  What’s amazing to me that he can hear anything over the sound of his own whining.

The Houston Rockets tied an NBA record as they knocked down 23 threes and trounced the Warriors 140-109.  Golden State, meanwhile, went just 3-15 from beyond the arc.  Draymond Green, mad ’cause he was being styled on, was ejected from the game after swiping Patrick Beverly across the throat as the Rockets’ rookie attempted to shoot for the record with about 30 seconds to go in the game.  You can’t really blame Beverly as he had previously driven to the rack for a monster dunk only to be booed by his own home crowd.  As for Green, I find it funny that he made the Warriors’ most aggressive closeout of the night to prevent the Rockets twenty-fourth three.  Maybe try getting pissed when it actually matters next time.

Seven turnovers were committed in the last three minutes of Phoenix’s 96-90 road win in Memphis.  Seven.  If a team were to turn the ball over 3.5 times per quarter they’d average 14 a game, which is almost precisely where the Suns stand on the season (14.3).  Now, if a team were to turn the ball over 3.5 times per three minutes, they’d average FIFTY-SIX turnovers per game.  To put that in perspective, the Houston Rockets are last in the league in TOs at 16.4 a night.  Needless to say, the end of this game was incredibly ugly — like a college game, methinks — but it was abominable to the point where it was actually quite funny (unlike a college game).  Even the possessions that didn’t end in turnovers produced such hilarity as Darrell Arthur launching a three and Goran Dragic driving to the basket and attempting a shot from behind the backboard.  To Dragic’s credit, he was really the only player on the floor who was worth two cents during the stretch run; he scored 15 of his 17 in the fourth and each of the Suns’ last six, including the dagger on a pullup from 18 feet.  Whether it was Mike Conley, Jerryd Bayless, or Tony Allen, no Grizzly was able to hang with The Dragon.  Aside from the one where he ended up falling out of bounds and attempting to shoot the ball over the glass, Dragic had some impressive takes to the basket.  He also fooled the Grizzlies with the same damn move he used to beat them on December 12th.  Bears — not the smartest animals, apparently.

Jerryd Bayless dropped a season-high 29, and in doing so scored 20+ for the third time in four games.  He was totally useless down the stretch, but overall he’s been pretty good since the Grizzlies dealt their bench to Cleveland.  Tony Wroten, meanwhile, has been stapled to the pine.  Where’s your sense of adventure, Lionel Hollins?

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Tuesday Afternoon Links, Featuring Michael Beasley Riding Dirty No sooner than you can start to wonder, “is Michael Beasley finally getting his shit together?,” he goes and gets busted for doing 26 miles over the limit in an unregistered vehicle with a suspended license and a gun in the console.  To his credit, the notorious weed smoker passed a sobriety test and somehow managed to basically smooth talk his way out of the predicament.  According to the police report, he was allowed to leave the scene on foot with nothing more than a simple speeding citation.

The Diss: In other Michael Beasley [old] news, here’s the greatest article you’ll ever read in your life.

Ball Don’t Lie: Somehow, Russell Westbrook can wear the things he wears during press conferences but the injured Joakim Noah can’t wear a hooded sweater on the bench during a game.  So basically the NBA forced its players to go the hipster route with their dress code and now they’re mad at Noah for dressing marginally hipster-ish.  Typically I’d be the last person to come out in support of Joakim Noah’s fashion sense, but this whole ordeal simply bewilders me.  I mean, the NBA allowed him to get drafted looking like this… and now they’re going to tell him he can’t wear a sweater?  As far as all these metrosexual fashion trends, I believe the NBA made their bed and now they ought to sleep in it.

The Brooklyn Game: Andray Blatche aka “Teddy Dray” aka “Dray Bear” took it back to third grade and dished out Valentines to all of his teammates.  On Joe Johnson’s card, Blatche wrote “P.S. Try Harder,”  which is basically the pot telling the kettle to stop being black.

The Basketball Jones: JR Smith made a hilarious attempt to crash a peewee game at halftime of the Knicks’ blowout win over the Pistons, but none of the kids would throw him the ball.  Mike Breen suggested that the kids knew JR wouldn’t pass it back, but I think it’s because they’d just watched him fire an airball from the free-throw line.

Bucksketball: This selection is a couple weeks old, but it’s no worse for the wear.  In it, the Bucksketball team turns the entire Milwaukee Bucks roster into Spiderman villains.  Yes, photoshop is involved.  Be sure to swallow your drink before you look at the picture of Larry Sanders.

Grantland: I’m kind of giving this one a blind link, but it’s about Jimmy Butler Buckets, who deserves to be talked about right now with his 15 PPG average over Chicago’s last 11 games.  It’s also from Grantland, so it’s going to be effectively written.

Warriors World: Jarrett Jack’s favorite rapper is 2 Chainz.  His hero is Stephon Marbury.  His jump shot is comparable to a chair.  Somehow, he still comes off as both an intelligent basketball player and a perfectly reasonable human being.  As Stromile Swift’s #1 fan and an avid southern rap listener, I feel that this gives me hope.

Daily Herald: Speaking of the Stro Show, his name actually popped up in an article yesterday — an article that wasn’t entitled “the top 10 draft busts of all-time.”  Along with the likes of Patrick O’Bryant, Mikki Moore, and Shelden Williams, the author suggested that maybe Swift would be a candidate to sign a 10-day with the Bulls.  I highly doubt that Stromile is even on any team’s radar at this point, but maybe John Paxson is still swooning over this.  Weirder things have happened, I suppose. Most referees will put up with their fair share of crap.  After all, maintaining order amongst pissed off players and coaches is basically part of their job description.  That said, officials generally don’t take kindly to being told that to “stop acting like a female,” as that insinuates that they are all as terrible as one Violet Palmer.

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NBA Team Names: A Scientific Classification

@BreakTheHuddle goes into the laboratory to painstakingly study each of the NBA’s franchise nicknames.

On January 24th, the New Orleans NBA franchise unveiled plans to change their team nickname from the Hornets to the Louisiana-inspired “Pelicans”. Reactions from around the league were decidedly mixed; some players derisively chided the switch, commentators scratched their heads, and uniform-aesthetics junkies lamented the all-too-common blue, red, and gold color scheme that will soon adorn the Bayou ballers.

A week and a half has passed now, and slowly, it seems, people have started warming up to the new monicker.  The Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana and is known for its fierceness, and the people of New Orleans, provincial and proud as they are, understandably struggled to relate to the “Hornets” nickname, a carpetbagger that arrived with the Charlotte franchise when it moved to The Big Easy.  Additionally, whoever designed the new Pelicans logos knocked them out of the park:

If the back story and the visual aids don’t convince you that the switch to “Pelicans” is in fact a good idea, consider the following scientific classification of NBA team nicknames. They are labeled in a manner that is roughly (though not exactly) in descending order of sensibility and legitimacy, ranging from local animals to random non sequiturs to the hopelessly stupid. Once you’ve considered what’s already in place and how we’ve come to accept some seemingly-ridiculous names, you’ll probably come to the conclusion that the Pelicans really aren’t so bad.

Animals with Legitimate Geographic Relevance

Latin: bonus locus bestia

Atlanta Hawks: There are many raptors (the technical name for predator birds with sharp talons) indigenous to the southeastern portion of the United States.  However, due to the generic nature of the nickname “Hawks,” it could have been classified as a rota galea traba (random non sequitur). There is still debate in the scientific sports classification community as to their proper label, but at this publishing, they are bonus locus bestia.

Charlotte Bobcats: The Carolinas are home to many subspecies of Bobcats — solitary, fierce animals exhibiting crepuscular (dawn and dusk) activity. Allegedly, they can jump ten feet from a standstill, which makes them more athletic than anyone on Charlotte’s current roster. There’s an apocryphal story that the name derived from the original owner of the team, BET founder Bob Johnson, but that cannot be confirmed.

Chicago Bulls: Chosen primarily as a denotation of strength and power, the “Bulls” (or tauros) were also given the name due to Chicago’s important role as a meat-packing hub of the Midwest.

Milwaukee Bucks: There are a lot of deer in Wisconsin. That’s as analytical as I can get about this one.

Minnesota Timberwolves: A caveat: There is no such thing as a “timberwolf.” Why didn’t the team simply call themselves “the Wolves?” This poor decision aside, you might be surprised to learn that as recently as 2008 there were more gray wolves in Minnesota than there were in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming combined. Canis lupus reigns supreme in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

New Orleans Pelicans: As stated in the introduction, “the Pelicans” make much more sense than “the Hornets” for a New Orleans-based sports team. Some of the options on the table were truly horrendous, such as “the Bounce,” “the Spirit,” “the Angels,” and “the Creoles.” The one name in contention that would’ve been potentially acceptable, “the Brass,” was only considered because the Utah Jazz refused to give that sweet nickname back to the city of New Orleans. More on the Jazz later.

Somewhat Absurd, but Historically Ingrained and Therefore Valid

Latin: inconcinnus tamen fortis nomen

Nothing binds a city to its team like a caricatured representation of the largest demographic in the populace, am I right?

Boston Celtics: The name itself is fine – Boston is, after all, a predominantly Irish city – but the pronunciation has always driven me nuts. It’s supposed to be pronounced like “Keltic” rather than “Seltic,” but at this point it’s as much a part of the basketball lexicon as “dribble,” “dunk,” or “alley-oop,” so it has to stand.

New York Knicks: “Knickerbocker” was a common surname among the Dutch settlers of New Netherland. In time, the word came to refer to any New Yorker, especially a member of the Manhattan aristocratic elite. Save for former Pacer Rik Smits, the Knickerbocker nickname is the extent of all Dutch contributions to the game of basketball.

Philadelphia 76ers: It may seem silly to name a team after a specific year, but if the city of Philadelphia were to get a new team they’d end up being called something abstract and absurd like the ”Liberty” or “Freedom” or “Justice.” In comparison, Sixers doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

The ‘Sociologically Relevant to Locale’ Family

Latin: loci nomen

Subspecies A: Sociologically Relevant to Locale, Intelligent

Latin: oportet locus

Detroit Pistons: Time to let Wikipedia do the talking: “The piston of an internal combustion engine is acted upon by the pressure of the expanding combustion gases in the combustion chamber space at the top of the cylinder.” In my overly simplistic understanding, the Piston is the part of an engine that does the most work. And because ‘car manufacturing’ and ‘Detroit’ are as intertwined as ‘poverty’ and… well, ‘Detroit’, it makes perfect sense.

Houston Rockets: You might be surprised to learn that the home of NASA didn’t give the team its name.  The franchise actually originated in San Diego, where the name “Rockets” was inspired by a space-related boom in the aeronautics industry in southern California. When the franchise up and moved to Texas, it was still relevant, so it stuck.

Portland Trail Blazers: The name “Trail Blazers” beat out “Pioneers” in a name-the-team contest held by team management shortly after the NBA awarded Portland a franchise. The name is derived from the efforts of settlers moving west in the late 1800s. A little quirky? Sure, but if you know anything about Portland, the quirkiness makes sense. It works on both historical and sociological levels.

Subspecies B: Sociologically Relevant to Locale, Neutral

Latin: quietus locus

Denver Nuggets: Founded as a mining town, Denver pays homage to its forebears by calling its basketball squad “the Nuggets,” which is all well and good, but does it really make sense?  Why not “the Miners?”  It simply doesn’t make sense that they’re named after chunks of metal that come out of the ground rather than the people who retrieve said chunks of metal. It’d be like calling a team “the Viscous Liquids” instead of “the Oilers.” Perhaps I’m over-thinking this.

The pinwheel-looking thingy in the back of the boot? That's a Spur.

Los Angeles Clippers: Another San Diego expatriate, the Clippers derive their name from the sailing ships that passed through America’s Finest City. When the team moved to Los Angeles in 1984, the name stuck, and since Los Angeles is still relatively close to the ocean, it’s passable.

San Antonio Spurs: With the Texas-based football team owning the most obvious nickname to represent the state (the Cowboys), every other sports franchise was left to find its own creative way to cope. “Spurs” is a fine choice, so long as you can get over the fact that the name derives from part of a shoe — the part that was designed (in essence) to torture a horse into running faster.

Subspecies C: Sociologically Relevant to Locale, Stupid

Latin: bardus locus

Dallas Mavericks: Named under the partial influence of a television show that ran from 1957-1962, “the Mavericks” has a fine ring to it but falls flat once you start doing any critical thinking.  A Maverick denotes a person who “is independent in thoughts and actions.” Doesn’t sound much like a team player, never mind the fact that the technical definition for a Maverick is “an unbranded farm animal.” The Dallas Unbranded Farm Animals?  Yeah, they should’ve gone with that — would’ve been a real maverick move.

Indiana Pacers: Indiana is a state known for racing and basketball, so blending the two topics in a franchise’s nickname is a great idea… but instead of calling themselves “the Racers”, they went with “the Pacers”, which pays homage to the one car on the track THAT DOESN’T EVEN TRY TO WIN THE RACE.

100% Random Non Sequiturs

Latin: rota galea traba

Cleveland Cavaliers: The result of a contest held by The Cleveland Plain Dealer. Boring.

Golden State Warriors: Name came with the team from Philadelphia in 1962. The Philadelphia team was named after an even older Philadelphia team. Boring.

If the Sonics return to the NBA, they'll be classified as oportet locus as well. In case you were wondering.

Sacramento Kings: The franchise started as the Rochester Royals, then became the Cincinnati Royals, then became the Kansas City Kings because Kansas City already had a baseball team called the Royals, then became the Sacramento Kings. It’s like someone decided to take the franchise on a tour of the four lamest cities on this continent. Boring.

Washington Wizards: Used to be “the Bullets”, and if they still were, they’d be classified as oportet locus (Sociologically Relevant to Locale, Intelligent) because D.C. is the murder capital of North America. Instead, they’re the Wizards — another result of a contest, this one held by the team. Boring.


Latin: alienus

Los Angeles Lakers: Originally the Minneapolis Lakers, the team kept its name when it was moved to Los Angeles in the early ’60s because the Lakers had already won five titles during a 15-year run in Minnesota. For branding reasons, it was excusable. That said, the absurdity level is still high; there are just 200 lakes in California, and only 10 in the Greater L.A. area (all of which are entirely toxic).

The dark green is the modern-day range of the Grizzly bear... notice its (lack of) proximity to Memphis.

Memphis Grizzlies: Originally the Vancouver Grizzlies, the franchise clung to the name despite the fact that they compiled an atrocious record of 142-318 during their time in the Pacific Northwest. Absurdity level?  Very high, and on multiple fronts. Rebranding was clearly the best option in this particular move — Memphis has rich traditions from which to derive a nickname (Blues, anyone?) and there’s no evidence that any grizzly bears (other than Marc Gasol) ever inhabited Tennessee. Ever.

Utah Jazz: Originally the New Orleans Jazz,the franchise kept its name when it moved to a place that embodies the antithesis of jazz culture.  Absurdity level?  Astronomically high.  I can’t for the life of me understand why anyone thought it was a good idea to keep this team’s name when they moved to Salt Lake City.  As if anyone in Utah had ever listened to jazz…


Latin: tempestas mysterium

Subspecies A: Weather, counting nouns

Latin: tempestas plures

Phoenix Suns: A long list of names was assembled for the Phoenix franchise to choose from in 1968, and they settled on “Suns.”  Because, you know, it’s hot in Arizona. It’s a perfectly fine nickname, and it’s not like the other finalist (“the Firebirds”) was a slam dunk, but it feels as though it lacks imagination.

Subspecies B: Weather, non-counting nouns

Latin: tempestas unum

This is what "the Thunder" are stuck with: a generic, text-based logo, because they picked an abstract team nickname. Well done!

Miami Heat: The result of a name-the-team contest held by the ownership group. One of the four non-counting nouns in the NBA, and all of them drive me bananas. Yes, Miami is hot. Yes, the symbols and uniforms look cool. But no, they certainly did not exhaust the creative process.

Oklahoma City Thunder: “Thunder” isn’t exactly “weather,” but it’s weather-related. It’s also a terribly stupid nickname for a sports franchise. They’ve backed themselves into a permanent corner by choosing an ineffable abstraction for a name.  At least “Heat” can be signified by flames. How does one “show” Thunder, exactly? And don’t you dare say, “a lightning bolt.” If you want to use a lightning bolt, then name yourselves “the Lightning Bolts,” you stupid Oklahomans.

Shameless, Nonsensical Marketing Hokum

Latin: macula venalicum ars

Orlando Magic: The names considered for the Orlando basketball team: “Heat,” “Juice,” “Tropics,” “Magic.”  Um… yikes. Allegedly, inaugural GM Pat Williams’ daughter sealed the deal when she said (of visiting Orlando) “this place is like magic.” Cynically, it comes off as an attempt to partner with Disney World (AKA, “The Magic Kingdom”), which also happens to be located in Orlando. Also a non-counting noun. Also a dumb name for a professional, male sports team.

Toronto Raptors: Got the nickname because they were being formed at approximately the same time “Jurassic Park” was popular. I wish I were kidding. What kind of a short-sighted fool would go along with… Oh, it was Isiah Thomas. Makes sense. Nothing left to be said.

Just Plain Stupid

Latin: plumbeus

Simple elegance, ruined by a stupid name.

Brooklyn Nets: Imagine a football team named “The Pittsburgh Pylons.” Now, imagine a hockey team named “The Boston Blue Lines.” Next, imagine a baseball team named “The Phoenix Foul Poles.” See why “the Brooklyn Nets” is so abominable? Why name a team after a part of the field of play? Did New Jersey have nothing more distinguishable than that? Jay-Z and his business partners moved the team to Brooklyn after the ’11/12 season and missed out on a golden opportunity to fix this grave problem by rebranding. Fortunately, I suppose they can still make a change. So come on, Mr. Knowles-Carter, slap “the Knights” on the jerseys, repaint the floor, and rid our great sport of this insipid name. You can keep the black-and-white color scheme — that’s grown on me — but at least get rid of the name.

In conclusion:

I count at least eight team names that are more nonsensical than “the Pelicans” and a few others that are damn close. “The Hornets” never fit the city of New Orleans, and the way it sounds, it’s possible Charlotte will scoop the name back up in the coming years anyway. A win-win.

In time, the new name will surely grow on basketball fans. Until then, we just need to hope common sense prevails — that the Jazz relinquish their name, that the Grizzlies come up with something that actually relates to Memphis, that the Pacers alter the “P” to an “R”, that the Heat and Thunder start over with a ‘counting noun’ for a name, that the Magic and Raptors have changes of heart, and that the Kings, Cavaliers, Warriors, and Wizards add a little pizzazz to their brand. But I wouldn’t count on it.

The “Nets” to “Knights”  thing really needs to happen, though. We’re all counting on you, Jay-Z.

I've got 99 problems, and all of them involve your poorly named sports franchise, JAY-Z!!!

BreakTheHuddle primarily covers the MASH-unit otherwise known as the Minnesota Timberwolves. Leave a comment below, follow him on Twitter @BreakTheHuddle or email him


Sources / useful references:’s “Behind the Name” series:

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