We don’t have cable, but that hasn’t prevented me from watching any of the Stanley Cup and NBA playoffs. Thanks to MyP2P, which provides live feeds from China (makes you realize how useless the commentators are when they speak another language and you don’t miss anything), and ESPN360.com, i’ve been able to watch all i want, live over our broadband connection.
ESPN360.com is particularly great. I can watch anything on any ESPN/ABC sports property around the world (including rugby, soccer, etc if i wanted to), many of which are available on “replay” (on-demand). Best of all, the quality is outstanding. The feed of last night’s Spurs/Suns game (which the Spurs won handily) was a feed of the HD broadcast (which means widescreen) and i think darn close to HD resolution itself. Certainly looked great.
Here’s a screen cap (click on it to see it full resolution) so you can see the awesomeness. Best part: it is free, at least for anyone whose ISP supports it, which AT&T (Bellsouth DSL) does. Not sure about those on Comcast or TDS or other ISP’s around Nashville.
Wow. After bragging about hockey for having some of the best stats out there, it looks like the NBA is finally wising up and matching them in at least one category.
The NBA is now tracking players plus/minus. I just noticed it on the box score for the Spurs game from last night (don’t look, it wasn’t pretty). Going back in to the archives, it looks like they only just started reporting the stat at the start of this season on October 30th. They aren’t publishing complete plus/minus numbers for players for the season though, which is unfortunate. This is the one stat that should start to a quantifiable number for defensive-minded players. I look forward to being able to dig in and watch these numbers as the year progresses though, and even better from year to year.
I haven’t had a chance to watch very much basketball, what with so much hockey around and just being busy. I try to stay up on things though. I know my Spurs are on top, Boston is cleaning up out east… but i just saw that New Orleans is in 2nd place in the division and 3rd in the conference. What!? Someone please explain to me how and why New Orleans has a better record than… well… anyone. Especially better than Dallas. Weird…
Greag Popovich has to love that the Spurs beat the Mavs tonight without Tim Duncan. He has to be fuming at this news though. The NBA is going to require all coaches to be mic’ed up during games and give on-bench interviews during the game anytime they are on national TV. Popovich has always kept himself and his team just at the league minimum for media exposure. As few interviews as possible, as few reporters at practice as possible, etc. He is always terse and sometimes rude to reporters trying to get in a quick half-time interview with him in the hall. My guess is that more than once he will be required to pay a fine for refusing to do the interview or not wearing the mic. I hope so at least.
I really find that pretty amazing. I’ve seen the Predators and other NHL clubs do it with assistant coaches and with backup goalies. Also with players who volunteer. But… wow. I enjoy hearing what the coaches have to say, but this is a little extreme i think.
If you were David Stern and you had a 2 major referee scandals in the last 6 months, and had the integrity of your game questioned, how would you go about repairing public opinion?
Probably not by reinstating the suspended referee from incident #1.
That’s right folks. Joey Crawford, who has repeatedly proven himself an out of control, spotlight grabbing, egomaniac – and who actually challenged a player to a fight in front of several thousand people – is on his way back to an arena near you.
Quote from David Stern:
“Based on my meeting with Joey Crawford, his commitment to an ongoing counseling program, and a favorable professional evaluation that was performed at my direction, I am satisfied that Joey understands the standards of game management and professionalism the NBA expects from him and that he will be able to conduct himself in accordance with those standards”
Yes, that is probably true David. He can meet the standards you have in the NBA. But that’s the real problem isn’t it?
The good news is that if Crawford ever gets assigned to cover a Spurs or Mavs game, the bookies won’t have to consult Tim Donaghy. We all know what will happen on those nights.
First: My wife is awesome. She just started a hockey blog on HockeyBuzz.com: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/hockeywife By the way, i am surprised myself at just how sexy i find this.
This reminds me of something i was thinking about the other day… would i be a crazy die-hard hockey fan if i moved away from the Nashville Predators (or God forbid, they moved away from me). I am pretty sure the answer is still yes.
See, i have only really been a hockey fan for about 4 years. I grew up in Texas following mostly basketball and football. Between those two i am certainly more of a Spurs fan than Cowboys or Oilers/Titans. I prefer basketball as a game over football, despite the myriad of problems plaguing the league right now.
Right now i prefer hockey over basketball though. Given a chance to watch the Flyers and Devils play or the 76ers and Nets, i’d go hockey for sure. (Granted, if it was Flyers/Devils up against Suprs and anyone i’d watch my Spurs).
But i’ve been a big basketball fan for pretty much 20 of my 28 years on this planet. Hockey, only 4. So if hockey was to become less convenient, would i go out of my way to follow it the way i have basketball? I have to be honest and say that i hope so, but i’m not sure. Probably depends on if the Predators moved or i did. I can and would follow the Nashville Predators if i moved back to San Antonio, but i can’t see myself living in Nashville and following the Kansas City Predators. I would certainly be more interested in hockey than i used to, but it wouldn’t be the same. If on the other hand the Spurs left SA, i could still see myself following basketball, at least to a degree. I know the players, coaches, and back stories so much better.
The summary result of all these deep thoughts: It takes time to be a real fan of any sport. I am a crazy Predators fan, but it will take me years more of following the league to know players on other teams, know who hates who, who came through in the clutch and who is overrated.
So i will close with once again asking the rest of the fans in the NHL to be patient with the newer markets. We’ll get there.
While listening to NPR on my way home from work today, i heard yet another story about NBA ref Tim Donaghy. He pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to engage in wire fraud and transmitting betting information through interstate commerce. He bet on games that he refereed and all that…most of you know the story (if you don’t, you can read here, here, and here.)
Here’s the quote from the NPR story that really stuck out to me though:
The picks, the government said, included information about games that Donaghy officiated – information that was not public. Donaghy had “unique access,” including what crews would be officiating games, the interaction of different officials and players, and the physical condition of certain players.
[Donaghy] said that he would know the referee schedule in advance, something that is confidential, the general public was not privy to. Knowing the refs, knowing their dynamics with the players involved, Tim Donaghy would tell his two co-conspirators who he thought would be the winner of that game.
He wasn’t just telling them which games he reffing. He was telling them who was reffing where, and what the bad-blood history between refs and players was – and who would win based on those factors.
More than betting on games he actually worked, he is mostly being charged with is giving bookies and others inside information. Insider trading on NBA games if you will. The most important part of this though wasn’t mentioned in the AP article – that is, what the specific information was. He told them not only who was hurt and who wasn’t (which was relatively public knowledge most of the time anyway) but also what crews would be officiating games and the interaction of different officials and players.
That is huge.
Donaghy’s information was valuable not because he was a crooked ref, but because the NBA has a systemic problem with referees and players. Personalities are far too involved, and impact the outcome of games, even when gambling isn’t involved. Vegas and Donaghy knew it, and made good money by knowing who would be covering which games. Don’t you think David Stern knows it too?
It got so bad in one case last year that Joey Crawford challenged Tim Duncan to a fight and was later suspended as a ref, probably (hopefully) never to return to the league. But it isn’t just limited to him. It is so systemic that a gambling ring setup with an insider to take advantage of it on a large scale.
Everyone is so caught up in one ref (who knows, maybe more) that could have thrown games that he called. Is that big – yes. But what is much more important is what every solid NBA fan as known for years – there are few if any impartial refs left in the business. They may not be being swayed by money, but they are swayed by personalities, conflicts, and ego.
If the league doesn’t get this under control fast, one gambling ref will be the least of their problems.
It looks like the NBA is finally starting to learn from the NHL and MLB when it comes to using minor leagues. The My San Antonio Spurs became the second NBA team to purchase a NBA D-league team outright today. They will now have full control over the coaches, the players, and what sort of system the Austin Toros runs on the court. Huge win for the club.
However, something stuck out to me in the article:
During the 2006-07 season, 19 NBA teams assigned 24 players to D-League rosters, and 14 NBA teams called-up 16 players (‘Gatorade Call-ups’) while 31 D-League alumni participated in the NBA Playoffs.
Did you catch that?
The NBA is so good at getting sponsorships, that the process of calling up a player from the minor leagues to the bigs is now branded. Every time an article is written or ESPN reports on player movements between leagues, Gatorade gets a plug. I thought the “First Tennessee first goal of the game” was funny, but… wow.
As has been pointed out here and many other places, the Predators and the rest of the NHL* need to find alternative revenue streams if they want to compete with the big boys. Tickets, beer, and t-shirt sales only go so far.
[rant] *Yes, even teams like the Leafs. They may have all the revenue they need, but if the league collapses or shrinks down to 6 teams again because it isn’t profitable, then… oh wait. I forget. Most of Canada is apparently fine with that. If i read one more article like James Mirtle’s today that talks about the NHL’s reckless expansion into the US since 1967…i swear…
Tell me, how many of the ‘original six’ teams were Canadian? (answer: 2) The last time the NHL was made of majority Canadian teams was in 1925. [end rant]
Oh, and in the marketing department, the Predators rolled out a new website today. It looks…a lot like the old one. Pretty much a clone of NHL.com, which needs a serious redux itself. But it’s nice enough. Now lets see if they actually post any good pictures, videos, and useful information. Within 48 hours of the thing actually happening. Press conferences for last weeks games don’t count. Oh, and get rid of (or improve) that ghastly list of 100 things to do with tickets. They did do a decent job of covering the draft, i’ll give them that. I don’t think we’ve really seen the new site though. This is all the old content dumped into a new layout. It still lists the 3rd Jersey which has been outlawed for next year.
I know this isn’t news, but i would have my Spurs memorabilia repossessed from my family if i didn’t post about it.
No offense to the Cavs or their fans, but this really wasn’t much of a game. Or a series. It was by far the easiest series the Spurs had in the playoffs.
But don’t worry Cavs fans. You have a bunch of ex-Spurs running your team and a class act organization. You will win championships. Plural. Soon. It took us Spurs fans several painful years of watching the team blow leads, give up turnovers, and play streaky. The Cavs remind me of the Spurs circa 1996-97. All they need is more patience, more experience, and a good point guard.
But of course in the modern era of free agency it is hard to keep a team together right? So which Spurs are up as free agents for next year? Michael Finley, Fabricio Oberto, Jacque Vaughn, Melvin Ely, and Danny Fortson. Yeah. Cavs free agents? Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic.
I’m calling it right now. Next year: Cavs vs. Spurs final again. This time it goes 6 games. Spurs still win.
[Half-time of game 2 between the Spurs and the Cavs]
I thought i was going to be all smart and be the first to bring this up, but then Dan Patrick kinda mentioned it during the half-time break.
Tony is a scoring opportunist. He is a master of exploiting what defenses give him, but against a strong defense (like Detroit several years ago) he has to defer to his able team mates. That’s fine. He’s a point guard. That is what he’s supposed to do. So far Cleveland can’t stop him and isn’t playing particularly well – so he’s having a huge series.
Tony Parker may well end up the finals MVP. As solid as he is playing and running the team, he is putting up gawdy stats and playing very solid defense.
Tim Duncan has so far played very well too, but two factors are keeping him a step behind Tony. 1) He is just being Tim. He has been so dominant for so long, that it doesn’t feel like he is having a great series. 2) He doesn’t have to. Tim is great at taking over games and winning them. Getting the blocks and stops when it matters and scoring at will against defenders.
But i honestly think that if Cleveland was putting up some kind of a fight, Tim would be the MVP. He would stand out for his ability to close out games, and be the go-to guy. As it is, Cleveland is so under-matched, that Tony is being able to put on a clinic on how to drive the lane and draw contact.
So in a close series, Tim gets it. In this one, Tony gets it, and deserves it.
Oh, and Cleveland fans, do not despair. You’ll be back. Mike Brown, Danny Ferry, and LeBron James are modeling themselves after the Spurs. This model works. There is a Cleveland dynasty coming down the road. This year is just not your year.
I called it back in November (see #3). And now it’s here.
Trouble is, the Jazz aren’t even putting up a fight. I really wish they were better. Kinda.
I don’t think this series is going to even be a contest, and the Spurs are going to march right through them. Normally, i’d be ecstatic about this. I guess in reality i am. I’m a big Spurs fan and i can’t wait to watch another championship. And i really love that we are doing it against the Jazz. But i wish they were putting up more of a fight.
Here’s where i’m coming from.
Since i became a Spurs fan in 1989 (the year we moved to San Antonio, but also David Robinson’s rookie year), here’s the Spurs playoff history:
2006 — defeated Sacramento, lost to Dallas 2005 — defeated Denver, defeated Seattle, defeated Phoenix, defeated Detroit 2004 — defeated Memphis, lost to LA Lakers 2003 — defeated Phoenix, defeated LA Lakers, defeated Dallas, defeated New Jersey 2002 — defeated Seattle, lost to LA Lakers 2001 — defeated Minnesota, defeated Dallas, lost to LA Lakers 2000 — lost to Phoenix 1999 — defeated Minnesota, defeated L.A. Lakers, defeated Portland, defeated New York 1998 — defeated Phoenix, lost to Utah 1997 — [did not make playoffs - drafted Tim Duncan] 1996 — defeated Phoenix, lost to Utah 1995 — defeated Denver, defeated LA Lakers, lost to Houston 1994 — lost to Utah 1993 — defeated Portland, lost to Phoenix 1992 — lost to Phoenix 1991 — lost to Golden State 1990 — defeated Denver, lost to Portland
We were major rivals with Utah for a long while. Regular season. Playoffs. Didn’t matter. It was one of the strongest rivalries i’ve ever been in the middle of. We also developed a big rivalry with Lakers, especially with Phil Jackson. And to a lesser degree we had rivalries with Portland and Houston for a while early on there.
But with all of those other teams (and many others of course) we have gone on to beat them in the playoffs. Since i started watching, we have beaten every team that ever beat us (except Golden State who doesn’t count, and Houston who we never had a major rivalry with…too friendly). I specifically remember when we beat LA in ’99. Monkey off the back.
Portland, Phoenix, LA Lakers, Seattle, Memphis, Denver, Sacramento.
We’ve handled them all at some point. Except Jerry Sloan and the Utah Jazz. We’ve never “gone through” the Jazz.
Though no Spurs player was a part of the team that lost to Utah so many times long ago, the fans know. The fans remember. I can bet you the players know it too. This series is important.
This is redemption.
Note: I also have to say, i understand that Utah needs to change uniforms occasionally like all teams, but the fact that these guys are wearing powder/pastel/columbia blue and not the old Utah Jazz purple (or even black), makes it seem like a totally different team. Not quite the same. As my wife Christy pointed out, they look like a college team. Pro teams don’t wear powder blue.
Real Update: Tim Duncan was fined $25,000 for his critical comments about Joey Crawford to the media. This was expected. As you can see from my post “Better Fines”, the NBA fines players and coaches when the publicly critisize game officials. This is the best spent $25k Duncan has ever paid out, and i’d be willing to bet that most of the players and coaches around the league would jump to pay the fine for him for helping to get Joey Crawford throw out of the league, if only for the playoffs.
Rant Update: Per request, i will rant a little more… (warning: this is a particularly rambling, disconnected, random rant)
Joey Crawford is basically one of the worst refs to ever call a pro sports game by most accounts that i know of. At least in the “modern era”. Certainly by my opinion. He tries to show up players and coaches, and obviously loves the camera being focused on him. If you skim the comments on the Blog Maverick post above, you’ll get some idea what others think (though that is hardly an unbiased forum)
He does a decent job, occasionally, of actually officiating games. There are times when he calls games and there are no stand out problems. The calls seem reasonably fair, and nothing major happens. But then there are other times when he is a loose cannon. He has a dangerous temper and it goes off. That is just not something you can have in a referee. He makes ridiculous (or at least questionable) calls, and if anyone protests, they get a technical foul and are usually ejected shortly thereafter. You can see him giving someone a technical foul in the picture above – it wasn’t very hard to find.
In many ways and to many people he is a good ref. He has called more playoff games than any other, and according to the way the league reviews calls, rates very highly on ‘accuracy’ and making the right calls.
But that comes down to one of the major problems. The NBA and David Stern (the commissioner) have a major problem with the way games are officiated right now. The calls are too inconsistent, and the refs play far too large a part in the game. Some of it is the way new players are playing the game. I think a lot of it is that players are figuring out ways to ‘work the system’.
Example: Players normally do not want to foul someone. If you do, then the person gets to shoot free-throws (if they were shooting) and each player can only foul someone so many times. However, there are now many examples, the most famous being Shaq, where it is a clear and obvious strategy to intentionally foul someone. Most teams only use their top 6-7 players very much during the game. Of those 6-7, only 2-3 usually are in a position where they regularly pick up fouls. So – rather than actually try to play defense against Shaq (which most teams are not equipped to do well) they just foul him – because he is a horrible foul shooter. There are 5 players sitting on the bench with 6 fouls each, plus a few from your main players – that is 34-40 times that you can foul someone and if they aren’t good at shooting free-throws, you will likely get the ball back. The better average free-throw shooters in the NBA shoot 75% or so, and many players that shoot more like 50%-60%. This is the great strategy known as “Hack-a-Shaq” The bad part is, it works really well.
The NHL has the great “delayed penalty” rule – if one team commits a foul – a penalty is called. However, if the team that was fouled still has the puck and could potentially do something good with it, they get to keep trying. In the NBA, if someone has a good shot at the basket and is likely to make it, most teams just foul the person now and prevent the shot. This makes the game boring, frustrating, and also frustrates the players which usually leads to more real fouls.
So part of this rant is against the broken system of NBA officiating…
But back to Joey Crawford. He is worse than most.
Where most reffing crews call an average of around 35-45 fouls per game and average less than one technical foul – Joey Crawford’s crew has the infamous distinction of calling two of the worst games in history during the 2003 playoffs between the Spurs and the Mavericks. Joey Crawford himself called 4 technical fouls on Dallas coaches within the first 10 minutes of the game! I am a Spurs fan and can clearly state that this was completly and utterly unwarranted. His crew went on to call 120 fouls and 9 technicals. During the playoffs. And these were two teams that were not known for having attitudes or problem players. This was two of the classiest coache/player sets to play the game in recent history. Joey Crawford became the story of the series (rather than the play on the court) and as a result was warned by David Stern that if it happened again, he would have consequences. Well, here it is.
I kinda feel like this represents the state of basketball in my life right now.
It’s a shot of a goal nailed up to a tree across the street from my friend Jamie‘s old place (just helped him move)
2 years ago I would have listed basketball as my number one sport, and i still love to shoot hoops on my own when no one is looking – but the last time i did that was more than a year ago. and now that i’ve gotten so in to hockey, and we have a team in town, i haven’t been following my Spurs most of this year. maybe when the NBA playoffs start up i’ll get back in to it again.
I was talking with my dad about this at the last Predators game. It really makes me sad. I just like hockey better right now. I guess that’s ok. That doesn’t make me bad right? I just grew up cheering hard-core for the Spurs for so long, i played basketball as a kid (in church leagues and pick-up games).
But the current version of the game, the way the refs call things and the way most teams play…the way the league is so unbalanced…it just doesn’t grab me the way it used to.
I am sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that i am going to hockey games live, and live a couple of hundred miles away from the nearest NBA town (500+ if you are looking for a team that actually wins games). We don’t have cable and i almost never get to watch Spurs games anymore. Here at the end of the season and in the playoffs that should change since ABC broadcasts games…but now i don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know who’s who. I couldn’t even tell you off the top of my head who plays center for the Spurs most of the time right now.
I still have a Spurs flag next to the Predators flag on my desk at work. And i still have an autographed David Robinson poster, “Go Spurs Go” sign, and a few other cool Spurs items in the sports-themed (Predators dominated) bathroom downstairs.
But alas, basketball is not the game it once was for me.
I have to say there is the teenie tiniest part of me that hopes that if the Predators don’t win it all this year that they just get knocked out early so i can have more time to watch the Spurs in the playoffs. Of course the same could go in reverse. I don’t even know if the Spurs are strong enough to guarantee our usually deep playoff run this year.
A couple of years ago, after a mediocre freshman year at Kentucky, 6-11 Ralph Morris decided he’d be a hot shot and enter the NBA draft.
NBA scouts thought he was overweight, played poorly, and generally not NBA material
As a result he went undrafted.
The NCAA let him back in, since he had never (officially) talked with an agent or gotten paid anything by anyone.
Now, according the new NBA collective bargaining agreement from a few years back, players must enter the league through the draft. They declare themselves eligible, and wait around for that phone call telling them they are rich. However, if they go undrafted, they can never re-enter another draft. They instantly become free agents. Normally this means getting invited to training camp to work out with a few teams, maybe getting signed as a bench warmer if you’re lucky, etc. Many great players enter the league in this fashion (defensive specialist Bruce Bowen of the Spurs comes to mind).
However, something very interesting is happening. Ralph Morris has gotten in shape and is playing really good ball (apparently). As a result, all he has to do is say he is interested, and he can sign with any NBA team and walk away from Kentucky – in the middle of both the NCAA and NBA seasons. Just switch. As the Yahoo article points out, “the kid just needs to say the word and he never has to wake up for another 8:30 am class.”
In other news: Morris might come in just in time to play with a leather ball again. David Stern, just made an amazing announcement that I don’t think anyone saw coming – they are going back to the leather ball, scraping the composite ball that everyonehates so much. You don’t think it had anything to do with the players union filing suit over the ball do you? Just last week the players union filed two suits. One saying that the ball was a significant change to the game made without their consent. The other stated that the new standard for calling technical fouls (that i wrote about earlier) is so severe as to constitute a new rule change, which again, the NBA is not allowed to do without consulting the players union. No word on any changes there as of yet.
Many say that David Stern has done wonderful things for basketball. That the NBA’s popularity has soured under his leadership. While that statement is an undeniable fact, i don’t agreed with the implied causality. I more agree with Mark Cuban’s observation in a recent post that the major sports leagues are largely benefiting from the increased value of sports programming. The revenue streams pouring in, and TV’s need to justify those contracts by supporting the games and stars, is inflating the value of the sports leagues. Especially since sports are one of the few bits “Tivo-proof” programming left out there.
Tonight my wife and i were talking about the clappers that the Predators just handed out at a home game last week. We weren’t at the game, but from what i understand, it was insanely loud. Painfully, annoyingly loud.
Christy made some comment about the HOP (the corporate sponsor-less “Home Of the Predators”) being the loudest arena in the league. I was a little harsh and kidded her that she is new to being a sports fan and didn’t know that everyone makes that claim (i’m really sorry about that sweetheart). But that got me wondering just how many places do make that claim…
Here is but a small sampling: Delta Center (Utah Jazz) “[The MCI Center] isn’t nose-bleed steep like Delta Center in Utah, which, not coincidentally, is the loudest arena in the NBA…”
Arco Arena (Sacramento Kings) “Sacramento has a league-best streak of 317 sellouts at Arco Arena, which has been the loudest arena in the league…”
Bell Center (Montreal Canadeans) “…in the Bell Center where Montreal could get a great boost from the noisiest crowd in the NHL…”
The RBC (Carolina Hurricanes) “…after Ray Whitney’s second goal in game two the level was measured at 134 at the RBC even with all the millions of Sabre fans in the building. Say what you want but it is the loudest arena in the NHL…”
So…that is obviously not a scientific sampling. But gives you some idea.
I can personally vouch that while you are there, the Spurs claim that the SBC Center is the loudest. Everyone still brags that the old Hemisfair Arena was louder still (no one said that the Alamo Dome was loudest, even though it had the largest seating capacity at the time…something about a massive velvet curtain tends to damping things a bit).
Point being, for the home team, home is always best. Those few souls who are impartial and actually get to visit multiple arenas (national broadcasters, etc) tend to play along and say that wherever they are, that it is the loudest they’ve ever heard. Of course, Bill Walton (apparently having an extremely short memory) always thinks everything he is experiencing at that moment is the best in history: “That dunk by bench player Ian McFarlin was the most amazing I’ve ever seen!”. At the very least, he will compare to some historic figure before: “Ryan Hollins is the best rookie center to come into the league since Patrick Ewing”
I am beginning to understand why some bloggers do the “which LOTR character am i?” blog entries. They are filler. There are days (and days in a row) where i want to post, there are things to post about, but i am just too lazy.
But here’s a quick synopsis: 1) I think this is stupid. 2) I think this is frustrating, but almost funny. 3) My fantasy basketball (“Spurs”) and hockey (“Predators”) teams are doing nearly as well as their real-world counterparts. It helps when i stock my fantasy teams with players from my real-world favorites. I’m in second place in basketball after two weeks, and have climbed from last (8th) to 4th over the past few weeks in hockey.
Of course, i’ll also throw out there that one of the reasons i’ve been unmotivated to post, is that i’m doing tons of other things online and on the computer right now, so after a while i just have to get up. I’ve been moving all of my (and my customers) websites over to a new host, and creating a new websites. More on that later…
A few random sports thoughts and notes on this Thanksgiving, the best of all American sports holidays.
1) I understand where the NBA is coming from with their new “low tolerance” policy on arguing with the refs. The referees had gotten so bad, and the players so whiny, that every single call (or no-call) was followed by 15-30 seconds of a player filling the refs ear. I can’t imagine that was very much fun for the refs, and it certainly didn’t enhance my enjoyment of the game. I think it also exacerbated foul trading. If a call was missed, the players would make sure to point it out, and the refs would whistle a “make-up call” within a few minutes. This of course perpetuated the problem. Then the league decided to put in a new rule that owners weren’t allowed to complain to the refs from the sidelines either. The new policies, combined with what must be more scrutiny of the refs by the league, has meant less whining, and more basketball.
Here’s the problem though. The refs still aren’t perfect (shock!). In this great democracy of the USA, the players and fans (and owners) are used to being able to voice our grievances. It is the players right to collect $20,000 per night and complain about the injustice that is before him. Honestly, it really is. The players need a forum for bringing real issues up with the refs. There are legitimate times when a ref may not see something that another player is doing, and it needs to be pointed out (“Watch next time down, he’s grabbing my jersey when I setup in the post”). Right now, the players are going to be afraid to do that.
I think the NBA needs to adopt a more NHL-like method of captaincy where one person (could be a player, could be an assistant coach, could be the ball-boy) has the right to calmly go up to the ref to talk something over. Right now this is turning into something of a dictatorship, which isn’t fun for anybody, and just frustrates fans and players alike.
2) I found a cool site that does computer-based power rankings of teams in all major professional sports leagues (including NCAA football, my least favorite of the pro leagues). I like the fact that it simply uses win/loss records. No point differentials or other stats that discourage sportsmanship. Just pure numbers. It basically ranks all the teams and how they perform home vs. away, against top opponents vs. bottom, last 10 games, etc. Then uses formulas to rank everyone. I especially like it right now because it has the Predators 4th, ahead of teams with better records, and has the Spurs second only to the Jazz. I also love that they have Oregon State (6-4) and Arizona (5-5) in the top 25. I don’t really care myself, but i know that’s got to be driving some people nuts, and for me, the more chaos there is in college football rankings, the closer we are to a much needed playoff system.
3) While i’m on the topic of Spurs vs. Jazz… I love that the Jazz are doing so well this year. I honestly hope they keep it up. Why? Because i hate them. I grew up hating them. Jerry Sloan and the combo of Malone, Stockton, and Hornacek were dirty and got away with murder and weren’t nice and…yeah. I hated them. Everyone in San Antonio did. So i am thrilled to see them doing well again, hoping that the rivalry is brought back, even if they aren’t in our divisional anymore.
4) Lastly, GooTube has made a deal with the NHL to carry games online for free. The whole game, online, free to watch. Wow. Just wow. The NBA has had games up for a bit, but they charge money for them. These are totally free. I’ve read different articles saying that the games are supposed to only be online and free for 24 hours and such, but right now there are 10 Predators games up and free to watch in their entirety. They also have some classic old games, like the 1989 or 1967 Stanley Cup Finals. Old School. Best of all – they ENCOURAGE users to make their own “fan clips” to be featured online. That is so cool.
I know this was a kinda whiny post for Thanksgiving, so here’s what i’m thankful for: 1) A place where i can whine and think someone cares about it. 2) Spell check. Never could have used the word exacerbate without it :-)
Last night when Christy and i went to the movie, it meant not watching or listening to a Predators game for the 2nd time this year. The last time i didn’t watch/listen was when we went to the opera, which i think was the last time the Preds lost in regulation.
Over the years i have grown up in a family that taught me that whether i watched a game (or attended) DID impact the result of the game. I have a cousin an aunt who are forbidden from going to Spurs games together because every time they do, the Spurs loose at home, which is rare.
However, for last night i had finally convinced myself that it really didn’t matter. Even though it was the first game of the year against Detroit, i decided i could go enjoy myself at the movie, and find out who won or lost the game later.
Don’t worry. I wont let it happen again. My dad and i are going to the game tonight. In person.
Update: Predators won the game 1-0 against Colorado. Mason was amazing in goal. Update 2: I will be watching the game on Wed night on the Center-Ice package at Batter’d-and-Fried.
So, i think Mark Cuban may have just visited my blog!
Just yesterday i made a post about NBA refs vs. NHL refs and talked about MarkCuban a bit. I also linked to an article about/by Cuban.
He is a blogger himself of course. On his blog, he has a link to search blogs for “Mark Cuban”. My post now comes up in that search. Apparently a few other people found me via that method as well.
Here’s what makes me think it was him: The ISP and IP address resolve to “Mark Cuban”. Thats it. Nothing else. It is an IP assigned through SBC. In the interest of protecting what may be Mr Cuban’s personal static IP address, I am not going to post it here – but i might be willing to talk if the offer is right ;-)
Side note: I also found it interesting that Mark recently made a post on his blog about the NHL and his one-time (and possible future) interest in buying the Penguins. He also takes time to plug his HDNet network, and he’s right, hockey is a million times better in HD.
Oh and Mark, if that was youvisiting: Glad you are using Firefox, but you need to upgrade. 2.0 is out dude.
So, i realized the other day that i am apparently a fan of consistency. “My” teams are the San Antonio Spurs, Nashville Predators, and Tennessee Titans (formerly Houston Oilers). The coaches for each of those teams hold the second longest tenures in their respective leagues.
Predators coach Barry Trotz is second only to Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff in the NHL
Titans coach Jeff Fisher is second only to Pittsburgh’s Bill Cowher in the NFL
Unfortunately, I think coach Fisher’s reign may be about to end, though i think Titans GM Floyd Reese should go well before Fisher. On the other hand, i think Sloan may be forced out of Utah soon given their lack of competitiveness for years since they lost the Malone/Stockton duo. That would make coach Pop the longest tenured coach in the NBA.