Monday, April 02, 2007

Raptors 107, Bobcats 94

The Bobcats were in Canada on Sunday to take on the Raptors. Though we were on foreign soil, it was nice to have a friendly announcing team for the first time in a while, rather than the out-of-market commentators. Matt and Stephanie were calling the action—did Henry have visa issues? It would have been nice having him around, as I’ve grown fond of one of his favorite phrases, which is “Now let’s say you’re the Bobcats…” It makes the game feel like I’m reading one of those old Choose Your Own Adventure books I used to have as a kid with titles like, “You Are a Shark” and “Invaders of the Planet Earth,” and several others that often involved vampires, spaceships, and/or ninjas.

Anyway, the dominant advertisement lining the scorer’s table is strangely not Molson, Air Canada, or even Steve Nash’s Fundamentals of Basketball DVD series; it’s “Ford: Built for life in Canada.” I’m rather unimpressed by this boast, because I’ve never really thought life in Canada to be substantially different than it is here in America. But whatever it means, the slogan could also apply to TJ Ford. TJ finished with 11 points, 8 assists, and darted in and out of more hairy situations than TJ Hooker. Especially irksome was his end-of-the-half, coast-to-coast run that resulted in Gerald Wallace’s third foul with .8 seconds left.

“When you’ve got a (big man) who can set a screen and still step out and shoot it,” Brevin Knight told the Observer afterward, describing Chris Bosh, “that’s a problem.” Indeed, on Sunday the Bobcats had about 99 problems, and Bosh was one. Needing the win to clinch a playoff spot, Toronto played like it, hitting 26/29 free throws, keeping turnovers down to 11, and out-rebounding us 48-34. Ford, Chris Bosh (24 points, 16 rebounds), and Juan Dixon (15 points) had the Bobcats flummoxed and in foul trouble. Coach Bickerstaff spent the night desperately pleading with the boys to keep their fouls under control, but it was all fruitless; it reminded me of how doctors always try to warn my 91-year-old grandfather that his pack-a-day cigarette habit is going to end up killing him. Out of luck in the paint with Wallace on the bench most of the third, the Bobcats were forced to rely on their perimeter game, which is like asking Young Jeezy to forego making songs about selling drugs and simply rely on his rhyming abilities.

The positive big positive continues to be Walter Herrmann, whose game is blossoming after he spent most of the year threatening to become Argentina’s biggest flop since the Falkland Islands War. “If you didn’t know (his) name before,” Matt Devlin pointed out, “you know it now.” Although he left out the fact that we still might not know how to pronounce it, Matt was on point. Herrmann had 22 points and 8 boards and combined with Okafor (16 points, 7 boards) to partially offset a down night by Wallace (13 points, 6 rebounds) and especially Matt Carroll (3 points on just 1/9 shooting).

Oh well, in honor of Sunday’s Wrestlemania, I wanted to ask if anyone had noticed that LeBron James seems to be in the midst of a textbook “heel turn” right now, one that Vince McMahon couldn’t have crafted any better. It’s all been really subtle--just how the WWE has done it before with The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. First, word trickled out about LBJ’s obscenely large new mansion, which will allow him and his children to relax and unwind in the family casino, and where not only can his kids play ball in the house, they can actually bowl in the house’s bowling alley (question: will LeBron end up scolding his children by saying things like, “How many times have I told you to take your shoes off before you come into the barbershop?”). This can’t sit too well with your typical blue collar Clevelander. Second, he even gave himself a heelish-sounding nickname, “The Global Icon,” which opens the door for a sort of updated “Million Dollar Man”shtick (his finishing move could be the “Product Push” or something). Plus he now seems to even have his own “manager”: Warren Buffet.

And then, last week LBJ trash-talked Stephon Marbury’s $15 sneakers with some snooty remarks about how they’re beneath his standards of quality. Not that I ever watch depraved trash like the WWE, but this is exactly how it goes: one guy goes heel while another guy goes babyface. In this case, the other guy switching up is Marbury, who went from referring to himself in the third person last year (or in the third person nickname, “Starbury”) to the populist hero who is trying to save the kids with low-cost footwear. LBJ is some personal entrance music and a couple of head- and wrist-bands with “$”-signs on them away from being a terrific bad guy. He could even form a tag-team with Kobe.

2 comments:

Downie said...

Speaking of Bryant, I was at the Grizzlie / Laker game Mar 22nd when he dropped 60 on us. It was hard to watch on several levels; one, the Griz get in the record books once again for the wrong reason; two, there were more Bryant jerseys on fans backs than Grizzlie jerseys; three, Bryant (I refuse to call him by his first name even at the risk of no one knowing WHO I'm talking about) once again displayed his thuggishness. 2 minutes before half time...Rudy Gay is guarding Bryant tight outside the 3 pt line...Bryant passes to a teammate at mid court and a time out is called by the Lakers. I look back and see Rudy bending over holding his groin (and I don't mean his "protective structure of stone or concrete; extending from shore into the water to prevent a beach from washing away"). He takes quite a while to make his way back to the bench due the obvious pain he's in.

After watching him flatten Mike Miller last year with a sucker punch elbow to the Adams Apple I'm not surprised at this Parthian shot in the slightest. Hes a thug!

Hugh said...

Downie--

Thank you for sharing this important information. Frankly, I'm disturbed by the growing rate of testicle-related incidents in the NBA. I challenge David Stern to find the balls to sever this problem off at its base.

For instance, is any instruction concerning testicle protection and potential threats given to rookies when they enter the League? I would bet not. And maybe he should consider implementing a jock strap and cup as part of the mandatory dress code, even when players are not in uniform. If he doesn't want to initiate random testing, he can just mandate that it be worn on the outside of suits.

Commissioner Stern can talk about expanding to China until he's blue in the balls--I mean, face--but unless he stops the testicle violence at home, he's going to have a problem.