NBA Cancels 43 Preseason Games!

According to the Associated Press (via ESPN):

The NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached a new labor deal with players.

NBA Logo The NBA owners have locked out the players, and little progress has been made in negotiations. ESPN.com Topics keeps you up to date with all of the latest on the NBA’s ongoing lockout. Topics Page »

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

From waaaaayyyyy downtown…BANG!

Use your best Mike Breen voice when you read the above title. Though I could just have easily have gone with, “What’s next, Rony Seikaly and Michelle Bachmann?” or, “Glen Rice never could stop anyone from scoring!” or even, “Sarah Palin and an overrated, volume-shooting small forward walk into a bar…”

Pun-tastic headlines notwithstanding, for those who have a life might have missed it, the interwebs has gone giddy with the news that this nation’s fave former VP candidate evidently made the beast with two backs one sultry night back in 1987 with a then-Michigan Wolverine undergrad whom you may recall from a one-year stint with the Knicks in 2001 by name of Glen Rice.

Where to begin…

Any of y’all who’ve read my writing before will note that I tend to be particularly fascinated by the intersection/bone-rattling parallels between the sporting world and the so-called “real” world. I find it somewhat piquant that an endeavor in which we, or at least I invest so much emotional energy as a means of “escaping” some of the more brutish realities of my/our daily lives, actually achieves the opposite and we/I find ourselves all-too reminded of the aforementioned soul-crushing ironies.

So a politician hooking up with a baller would seem to be a fat pitch down the middle for your humble correspondent. As I babbled in my most recent ESPN thingy, Vegas be damned, it’s not too hard to see how events will unfold in sports. The plot lines are fairly simple – Us v. Them, David v. Goliath, Isiah Thomas v. everybody else and on and on. If I’m going to remain true to this dictum, and if as I state, sports does mirror the philosophical, the sociological, and/or the political, it should be fairly simple to foresee how this bit of celebrity gossip will play out. Here we go

The usual suspects (late-night comics, Twitter, Deadspin) will make a series of zingy jokes like my decidedly un-pyramidal lede. The Right-Wing blogs /Fox News will go bat guano about the invasion of privacy and the so-called Left Wing Media’s all-consuming hatred of/desire to destroy Palin. (The fact that this is exactly what the Right did w/r/t Clinton and any/all of his paramours should not be noted. No hypocrisy at all. Nothing to see here. Move along.) The Left/MSNBC will, in fact, giggle like schoolgirls before quickly downshifting to some ham-fisted, painfully academic, tortuous attempt to use the Palin/Rice coupling to comment on the nature of race relations in this country. To which the right will double down on their (manufactured) outrage and explode with cries of ever-increasing ferocity accusing the Left of, “Playing the race card!” (Paging Andrew Breitbart! Andrew Breitbart to the stage, please). At which point, something even more gossipy about Kim Kardashian or whomever will occur and we’ll all forget the whole thing ever happened.

There. I just gave you 3-4 days of your life back. You’re welcome.

I’m really sorry if any of this sounds holier-than-thou. When it comes to celebrity gossip, I’m holier-than-very few. I mean, I read Us Weekly without irony (usually at the dentist/doctor’s office, but it still counts). I can tell you the real names and current activities of every member of the cast of, “The Facts of Life.” I’m a fracking actor fer chrissakes. I slobber all this scheisse up like a pig at a trough.

This, though, it wasn’t as fun as watching J-Lo’s latest marriage fall apart. Maybe it’s because, wherever one may fall on the Left-Right spectrum, one cannot deny that a part of Ms. Palin’s appeal, is…er…libidinous in nature. As evidence, I offer this (it’s a fake — in case you had your doubts) and this slobbering piece from Post pundit Rich Lowry. If you really want to dig deep into the muck, Google “sarah palin porn tape” (SERIOUSLY NSFW). Palin fantasies, from the moment McCain plucked her from obscurity, have run rampant. But a fantasy is always, always more powerful than the reality. And with this story, the fantasy of Palin-as-sex-object is shattered by the reality of what occurred in her life.

Can’t you see Palin as a young reporter, trying to figure out her way in the world, clearly a sports geek (like your humble correspondent), finding herself in bed with a prominent athlete one night because it was a chance to touch fame/success/adoration that she herself had not achieved, and at the time, possibly doubted she ever would? I think we all have, somewhere in the recesses of our grey matter, a fairly ornate fiction of what might occur if we ever met [insert celebrity crush here. For me, it’s Christina Hendricks] and everything went oh-so-perfectly to the point that we found ourselves in their arms.  I don’t know how anyone with an operant limbic system could read about someone, Palin in this instance, for whom the fiction became fact and not see something human and fragile and almost touching in her tale (no pun intended), possibly fraught with tinges of sadness/nostalgia/regret.

And if you can see Palin as a real person, well, then you can neither mock her or delight in her demise nor hold her up as some amalgam of the ideal wife/mother/President/Virgin Mary/Mary Magdalene. The story’s a shot straight to the heart of what we really want from our celebrities: A mask with nothing behind it but a shinier, nicer, mask, and behind that another and another…to the point of infinite regression.

So, 1000 words to the contrary, I’m going to leave this one alone. If any posters would like to have a long, dreary conversation about racial identity in America I’ve got a 20-page paper from college about the stereotype/myth/fantasy of the African-American male as sexual Superman that I’d be more than happy to send along.

But if some enterprising Porn magnate starts shooting, “Who’s Nailin’ Palin 2: From Waaaayyyy Downtown…Bang!” (featuring Lex Steele as Glen Rice) anytime in the near future, I’m demanding a cut of the gross profits.

Shumpert shines in first day of Vegas Impact League

Just a brief reminder that, somewhere, dudes — and in some cases our dudes — are still playing basketball. Yesterday marked the kickoff of the Impact Basketball Las Vegas Summer League, which is expected to include upwards of 70 current pro players.

Team D will in effect be Knicks West for the next few days, and includes four current Bockers on its roster: Chauncey Billups, Iman Shumpert, Roger Mason, Jr. and Shawne Williams. On the first day, Shumpert’s the only one who got any burn. But burn he did!

There’s not much in the way of reportage out there (at least not that I can find). But I did come across some fine guerilla reporting from one “Yuck Fou” over at Posting & Toasting:

Here are some notes I made from the Team D’s first game.
Made a left turn at the third Elvis and pulled into the Impact parking lot.
There were only five players on each side so no substitutions. Four ten minute quarters with a five minute halftime. There were maybe 200 people in attendance so I could move around to the D-Bags half of the court and sat maybe 10 feet from the action.
In the first 3 minutes Shumpy stole the ball, got a couple of rebounds and missed a wide open 3. After that he made at least 5 threes in a row, mostly from the right corner. Stole the ball a couple more times got at least 6 assists and made a nifty off balance put back on an offensive rebound. He also made a few two pointers and I only counted 2 misses. I’n not sure what the official box score will look like but he scored at least 20 points by my unofficial count.
My cellphone went off with about 2 minutes to go so I had to get to someplace quiet and missed the final two minutes of action but by that time the Bags were down by about 10. I’m not sure if they won or not, but I think they probably lost.
Shumpy pretty much stayed on the outside for most of the game.
Anyway my overall impression was of a guy who lets the game come to him, didn’t force up any bad shots, and if given a sliver of space will burn you. He’s got a nice stroke.
Jorts was not in attendance and since there was no program I am not sure who anyone else was except for Corey Magette. From what saw I think we can be encouraged.
That’s it. Now back to the tables.

There was also this, from Celtic reporter and Knation sworn enemy A. Sherrod Blakely:

“There were a handful of rookies here, but Shumpert was hands-down the best of the bunch. His athleticism was impressive, but he showed the ability to knock down jumpers as well which would make him an extremely tough cover in the coming years. He had 25 points and six rebounds.

So that’s good! Obviously we’re talking about the smallest of sample sizes here. Still, all accounts suggest that Shumpert is poised to be the kind of instant-impact rookie this sorely depleated Knicks team will need, if indeed a full NBA schedule miraculously comes to fruition.

Thinks he remembers those Draft night boos?

 

 

“Bock to the Future”: 1970 NBA Finals, Game 7

This is what we’ve been reduced to.

With the NBA labor situation still in a tenuous teeter, and with the interwebs already plush with reams of creative, clever, and compelling distractive fodder, content angles – at least original ones – tend to dry up right quick. Which is why, after a lot of thought… Let me just start that sentence over: Which is why, after basically no thought whatsoever, we decided to turn to a completely unoriginal template of sports entertainment to help get us through the coming weeks: the running diary.

But rather than chronicle the Euro Cup, FIBA Americas, or the WNBA – fresh, new, lively things like, as they happen – we at KnickerBlogger will instead try our hand at retrospective look-back diaries of classic Knick games past. I wish I were kidding.

Look, we get it: You already know the outcome; we aren’t learning anything we didn’t already know; we’re too lazy to come up with anything better. All these things are patently correct. Still, it’s better than reading Bleacher Report, right?

To aid us, I’m busting out the totally awesome eight-DVD Knicks box set I got for Christmas a few years ago. It features 10 or so classic games, spanning from the teams’ first title in 1970 to their unlikely dash to the ’99 Finals. Ewing and the boys’ upset of the Celtics in the ’90 playoffs; Bernard’s Christmas Day eruption; Allan Houston’s miracle runner, the Knicks-Nuggets brawl from 2010 — they’re all here, in delicious, pixelated crispness. Ok, maybe not that last one.

With that – and for karma’s sake –  we present our first installment in our (hopefully very, very short) Bock to the Future series: Game 7 of the 1970 Finals between the Knicks and the Lakers, broadcast by the ABC team of Chris Schenkel and Jack Twyman.

Spoiler alert: Someone plays hurt!

 

8:56 — No flashy graphics, no sterile studio theme songs. The Introductory shot for the telecast – shown on delay in most of the country – features a single, two-line introduction, all in white letters: Madison Square Garden; New York City.

Damn straight.

Here’s the next graphic, rendered precisely how it appeared on my television screen:

PLAYOFF SERIES

NEW YORK       3
LOS ANGELES   3

Neat, huh?

9:00 – Game 7 of the NBA World Championship, “brought to you live! AND in color!”

9:01 — At this point, no one’s really sure if Willis will play. So they show the rest of the guys warming up. One thing you notice immediately: “Quick releases” weren’t exactly commonplace forty years ago. Back then, shots were much more deliberate – you could even say aimed. Quick gunners like Jerry West were far more the exception than the rule.

9:02 — Red Holzman starts talking about Willis, using words like “optimistic” and “if he can.”

I’m sorry, Jack Twyman, how much cortisone did you say that was?

“WAIT, THERE’S WILLIS COMING OUT NOW!”

Willis Reed, mid pain.

The pictures are one thing. But to be deprived of the true volume that shook the Garden rafters that night is nothing if not a minor tragedy. What a moment.

9:04 — Schenkel and Twyman are very concerned about Willis “moving the cortisone around.” Basically, The Captain can’t feel his leg. The camera then focuses on Wilt, who looks less than enthused. For those who don’t remember, Wilt scored 89 points in a Game 6 Laker rout, when the Knicks basically platooned everyone in their lineup against the Laker Goliath, to no avail. Wilt was definitely not expecting this.

9:07 — Introduction time! Gotta say, love the straight-up organ. Not to mention the fact that, upon hearing their name, dudes just run out on to the court, stop, and put their arms behind their back. No smoke or lasers, or smoke lasers, or smoke made of lasers, or lazer-smoked Final Countdowns.

9:10 — Just realized a sizeable flaw in my plans: The game clock is nowhere to be seen. Luckily, c.2000 DVD machines still have clock “displays” – mine’s at the top of the screen – so at least we have something to go by.

Now the National Anthem, which is also played on an organ. You can just smell the cigarette and cigar smoke wafting through the Garden. Or see it anyway.

9:12 — And… the jump!

Willis scores the first two Knick field goals– both mid-range jumpers. Balls.

9:15 — Reed picks up his first foul against Chamberlain down low, sending Stilt to the stripe. Wilt’s free throw shooting is a kind of microcosm of his career: The whole thing looks effortless, and often times it was; but it was also flippant, distracted –conducted as if it were all somehow trivial. Then again, when you’re a multi-sport athlete like Wilt — and no, we’re not talking about volleyball — it can be hard to reach your full potential in one or the other pursuit. You know what I mean.

9:17 – Knicks jump out to a 9-2 lead. It’s been said many times, always with the benefit of hindsight, that the game was basically won at this point. But people forget this Lakers team was arguably the first incarnation of a Big Three, with Jerry West, an aging Elgin Baylor, and a still-dominant Chamberlain leading the charge. That has to count for something.

By the way, I know it was a totally different era — played in a very different style and tempo — but Jerry West was really, really good.

9:19 — Clyde on the line for the second time now. Like Wilt, Clyde’s free throw style kind of sums up his game: Cool, smooth, but all the while imparting an unmistakable concentration and focus.

9: 20 — I swear to God Wilt just dunked without jumping.

9:22 – Willis picks up foul number two. Normally, you’d yank your star player with two fouls this early in the game. But this – among many other things – is what made Holzman such a great coach: He knew Willis wouldn’t be able to go the whole game; all the team needed was a few minutes of holding Wilt in check. Reed could’ve picked up five fouls in the first two minutes, and Holzman would’ve kept him out there. The two early buckets were just a bonus.

Dashin' & 'Stachin'

9:25 – Knicks up 28-16 already – the game quickly slipping away from the Forum Blue & Gold. Speaking of which: What was with yellow paint all over the Garden court – outlining the lanes, even? This is Madison Square Garden, right?

9:27 – Wilt misses one of his… how do I describe this … jumping finger rolls? It was no skyhook, but I feel like this shot is similarly underutilized in today’s NBA. Then again, there aren’t too many centers who routinely have a 5-inch height advantage over their defender. Either way, what a fun shot! Knicks still up 13.

9:28. – Reed really can’t walk at this point, despite 200cc of cortisone. He even needs help sitting down for a timeout. Yet he remains in the game. What a beast.

9:29 — Frazier drives it to the left baseline, stops, gives a pump fake, gets his guy to commit, and buries a 15-foot rainbow jumper. Beautiful.

9:31 – End of the first quarter, with the Knicks up 31-18. At this point, you can see how the hindsight commentary had it that the game had been won with Willis’ first two buckets. The Lakers just look dazed and defeated. Meanwhile, half of the Knick bench players have popped collars on their white warm-ups. Just outstanding.

At this point ABC flashes another indelible graphic. “Graphic.”:

WALT FRAZIER

15 POINTS
4 ASSISTS
4 REBOUNDS

Yikes.

9:32 — Oh right, almost forgot about this part: back in the old-timey days, they used to have a jump ball at the start of every quarter! Not gonna lie, I kind of like the rule.

9:33 – DeBusschere hits a 20-footer from the right wing. For all of Dave’s much-needed toughness and rebounding, people forget he had a pretty refined offensive game — shooting, passing, the whole nine. Just another example of how well oiled a machine this team really was.

Frazier gets his 43rd steal of the game and hits Bradley for a running lay-in. Knick starting to pull away again.

9:35 — Schenkel uses his abacus to figure out that the Knicks are shooting 73 percent to start the game. Must be the short nets.

Another thing that’s pretty easy to notice: With the exception of Reed and Wilt, pretty much everyone on the court weighs under 180 pounds. Jerry West in particular is an absolute twig. OK, sorry – lithe. Knicks up 44-27.

9:36 — Schenkel just described the “usually blasé crowd” as being comparatively “rabid.” Wait, what?

9:37 DeBusschere hits reserve guard Mike Riordin with a beautiful fast break feed. Man could this team pass.

9:39 – An iconic moment: West starts a fastbreak with a full head of steam, only to be savagely ripped before half court by a waiting Clyde, who takes it the other way for an and-one — a vintage sequence punctuated by the image of the ball slowly swirling around the rim before dropping through. Knicks up 19.

Now Riorden forces West into an over-and-back at half-court. Lakers are unraveling very quickly.

9:41 – Twyman informs us that, in fact, it wasn’t 200cc of cortisone that Reed received, but two. Close enough. This prompts Schenkel to rib his partner by wondering aloud whether Twyman had confused Reed with an elephant in the circus, which was in town at the same time. Poor Jack…. aaaaan Dick Barnett flips a ridiculous shot over Chamberlain in the lane – a foot difference in height be damned. Just one of those games.

9:42 – Barnett goes to the line. It has to be mentioned that, in the pantheon of all-time ridiculous free-throw forms – Manute Bol, Bill Cartwright, Robert Parish, Anthony Mason and, of course, Rick Barry all have seats – I’ve never seen one as unhinged as Dick’s. A lefty, Barnett would start off normally enough, with his right foot cocked slightly back and his body relatively square to the basket. He dribbles once, spins the ball a little, and then – out of nowhere – flails his right leg back wildly as he releases. You have to see it to believe it.

9:44 — It’s incredible how often Wilt looks to pass. It’s as if he over-internalized all the criticisms of him being too “selfish” to be a leader. So instead of finding the appropriate balance, he instead took on an overly-deferential role, even though he was clearly still dominant enough to do whatever he wanted on the low block. Actually I think there were no less than 10 books written about that very subject. Consider them cited.

Also: I’d be interested to see how many turnovers the Lakers had in this game. They have to have at least 10 already.

9:46 – “And the chant is for defense!” Indeed. Also, Willis looks like he’s dragging a dead bison shank where his leg’s supposed to be.

Random observation: A lot more suits sported in the crowd back then. Which you wouldn’t expect in the bygone days when tickets were, like, a dollar.

9:51 – Wilt on the line again. Brick… Brick.

Cazzie Russell scores on a 10-foot baseline put back, Knicks up 25. The Knicks rebound a Laker miss and Frazier takes it coast-to-coast for a beautiful layup… YES, A GRAPHIC!

Field Goal Pct.

LAKERS     36%
KNICKS     56%

Golly those really get me going!

9:53 — Frazier absolutely rips Baylor at the free throw line, taking it for yet another coast-to-coast layup. I’m finally understanding why Clyde had an entire section of Rockin’ Steady dedicated to catching flies with your bare hand. Knicks up 67-40.

9:56 – Halftime. Mercifully. As much as I’m hoping here for wave of vintage cigarette and booze commericals, the screen flashes instead to second half warm-ups and — you guessed it — a graphic!

TURNOVERS

LAKERS   14
KNICKS    6

Jack Twyman informs us that Willis received another 2,000,000cc of cortisone in the locker room at halftime…. Sorry, 2cc. Not 2 million. My bad.

10:01 – Second half jump. Lakers win it. How adorable. L.A. comes out with a hell of a lot more energy for the second half, but their shots just aren’t falling. If they were, Wilt would’ve had 20 assists by now. Easily.

If that ball'd had blond hair!

10:04 — West with a beautiful drive and reverse layup, giving him the quietest 17 points I think I’ve ever seen. Lakers cut it to 23. Emphasis on 23.

10:06 — Frazier mercilessly mugs some poor backup at half-court. I’m not even going to bother looking up his name. Here’s the thing about Clyde’s steals: It’s not like they’re stealth pokes on crossovers or overt gambles; he’s just charging in head-on from four or five feet away as his man crosses the stripe. It’s really a sight to behold.

10:07 — Chamberlain gets the rebound down low and… passes to the top of the key. Good decision, Stilt!

DeBusschere and Bradley score on consecutive possessions, putting the Knicks up….I have no idea what the score is… oh there it is! 85-58.

10:12 – Schenkel just described MSG as a “wedding cake-like structure.” I actually got married three weeks ago, so this hits pretty close to home. Why my wife and I didn’t think of having a brownish-grayish soot-infused half cylinder cake gracing our post nuptial reception, I’ll never know.

Clyde goes to the line again. It’s the first time you can see the mutton-chop-mustache combo up close. It’s quite intense. Let’s just say the bedroom ceiling mirrors makes a lot more sense now.

10:15 – DeBusschere grabs the rebound, goes coast-to-coast for the layup. At this point, a completely crippled Willis Reed is the only one yet to accomplish this feat.

10:16 – Schenkel reminds us not to miss Nixon’s 10pm press conference, immediately following the game. Thanks, Chris.

Knicks still up 25. I know what you’re thinking: Why would you pick such an obvious, lopsided game to launch this series? Here’s why: Just because a game isn’t close doesn’t mean it isn’t exciting. To the contrary, watching these Knicks really is like watching poetry in motion. And you know what they say about clichés: They have to be true first. Actually I just made that up.

10:19 – They finally show Holzman, back turned as he patrols down the sidelines towards center court. As fun as watching these grainy old games is, one thing you really start to miss are the candid shots of the coach. After all, there’s nothing like bursting capilarries and gin blossomsto remind you that this is, at the end of the day, a boy’s game.

10:20 – Schenkel, after Baylor hits a 20-foot baseline jumper to cut the lead to 21, 100-79: “Well, Elgin Baylor now starting to warm up! He has 14 points!”

10:22 — Chamberlain, now sufficiently pissed off, proceeds to savagely dunk over his hapless opponent on the next five possessions. No, not really.

Just now realizing that Barnett’s jumpshot is just as strange as his free-throw. How interesting — how bizarre!

10:25 — Schenkel, after a rather attractive Baylor drive and hanging finger flip in the lane: “Weeelll!….. What a play!” You could seriously drizzle Chris’ disdain for Baylor over pancakes.

10:31 — …Now I’m just getting distracted. The two teams basically trade baskets for the rest of the game, with the Knicks going on to win 113-99. Of course, Willis wins the MVP.

Frazier’s final line? 36 points (on 12 of 17 shooting and 12 of 12 from the line), seven rebounds, and 19 assists. However savage, I guarantee none of those — and no basketball stat whatever — was the most impressive number Clyde pulled down that night.

The Knicks would win another title three short years later, over these same Lakers no less. Since then, fortunate has largely betrayed our beloved Bockers, who are fast-approaching 40-years sans a trophy. Which should help us appreciate just how special and talented these teams really were. Clyde, the Captain, Dollar Bill, The Pearl, Bussch (giggle!), Red — these guys had personalities to match their considerable talents, playing the game with a sync and style that was based as much on fundamentals as finesse. If any of you haven’t taken the time to check out one of their games, I highly recommend it.

Well, we hope you enjoyed this first of many installments of Bock to the Future. And by “many,” I mean “two or three.” Needless to say, we’ll try to mix it up with a few games from various eras. Any suggestions? Post ’em. Or tweet ’em. Whatevs.

 

Roger Mason: Not The Next Anthony Weiner?

Today NBA Player Union Representative, and part time Knick-guard, Roger Mason Jr. tweeted:

Looking like a season. How u

A few minutes later he followed that up with:

Someone just hacked my account. I did not say its looking like a season!

and

I’m sitting here wondering why my phone is ringing off the hook and I look on twitter and see that message. SMH! I wish that were the case

So either one of two things happened. Option 1: Mason is telling the truth. One of the world’s great hackers decided of all people to target Roger Mason’s twitter account. Not Kobe Bryant, perhaps the most famous of all NBA players world wide, not LeBron James, the greatest player on the planet, and not Chris Bosh, who plays with LeBron. But Roger Mason Jr., who saw 319 minutes of court time last year. And they went after his twitter account, and not his email or banking account. Once gaining such a valuable possession, they decided to tweet something that appeared to be a private message to another NBA player which was accidental revealed to the public.

In fact if I can take Option 1 even further, it’s possible that this person was an owner hoping to weaken the players’ leveraging power by making it appear that one of their members was optimistic about reaching a common ground. Or even more diabolically, it was the commissioner’s office who unleashed such a Machiavellian scheme.

Either that or Option 2: I and 25,000 other people who follow Mason have an inside scoop that the players and the owners are making headway on an agreement and one of the player representatives thinks that a season is likely to occur.

That said, I’m fine without a full investigation into Mason’s Twitter account.

2011 Report Card: Toney Douglas

For your typical NBA player entering the third year of his rookie contract, having a half-dozen or so go-to hangouts, avoiding arrest, getting to work without a GPS, and not being shipped to Bismarck, North Dakota would make for a pretty admirable list of accomplishments.

Toney Douglas can probably check off all of these things. As could a number of other guys not named Javaris Crittenton. But there’s one superlative amongst the ranks of soon-to-be Juniors to which the 25-year-old TD can claim sole ownership: The longest-tenured player on his adoptive team.

Which – let’s face it – has a pretty good chance of happening when your organization plows through personnel like a Red Army brigade.

Since being drafted (and immediately traded) by the Lakers with the 29th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Toney Douglas has shared a locker room with an astounding 29 different teammates (and one “eddycurry”). Numerous times, and particularly during the Carmelo Anthony saga, the Georgia native was mentioned as possible trade bait. But with deal after roster-imploding deal, TD’s #23 was the only jersey that continually emerged from – and descending into – the dank Garden tunnel; the lone, noble cockroach spared the nuclear fate of a franchise’s self-imposed apocalypse.

As such, we’ve been able to watch Douglas mature and evolve from an erratic, streaky scorer with a knack for lockdown D… into a slightly less erratic, streaky scorer with a knack for lockdown D. Coming as it did on the heels of an impressive rookie campaign largely lost amidst talk of savior free agents, Douglas’ sophomore campaign was a mixed bag. While he improved his per-36 numbers in rebounds (3.6 to 4.5), assists (3.7 to 4.5), steals (1.4 to 1.6), and turnovers (1.8 to 1.6), he regressed slightly in points per 36 (15.9 to 15.6), TS% (57% to 53%), and 3P% (39% to 37%). Along the way, he provided as many marvelous, confidence inducing performances (his Knick record-tying 9 three pointers in a 29-point late season barrage against Memphis) as he did tongue-gnawingly painful duds (1-12, 3 points against the Pacers, his attempt at a beard, etc.).

This is Harry Douglas, wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons and brother of our beloved Toney. I drafted Harry with my 15th and final pick in this year's fantasy draft. Why? Because I love karma almost as much as I love Toney Douglas. But not nearly as much as I love unnecessarily long photo captions.

Interestingly, TD’s schizophrenic play served as a kind of bellwether for the team writ large. The Knicks were 25-16 when Douglas scored 10 or more points, which, according to my calculations, means that the Knicks would’ve won 50 games had TD scored ten or more in all of them. It’s science.  What’s more, the Bockers were 4-3 during regular season games in which Douglas started, with two of the losses being against the Mavericks (You remember that one, right? My door does.), and a meaningless season finale against the Celtics (We won’t count the three playoff losses against said Celtics. Because I said so). For those first six games in early March, Douglas – starting for a quad-hobbled Chauncey Billups – averaged 16.8 points, 6.8 assists, and 3.5 rebounds on 58% shooting (including 49% from beyond the arc). Not too shabby.

All the while, TDDWTDA(as in Always)D… on D, providing by far the most consistent defensive effort on a team that often led on they’d have more fun memorizing Canterbury Tales. Even when he was clearly playing hurt (the shoulder injury which hobbled Douglas late in the season was severe enough to warrant an immediate, post-season surgery expected to keep him from a Spalding for at least three months) he was diving for loose balls, chasing after long rebounds, and providing a nagging (if sometimes overly-zealous) presence against ones and twos alike. Even if his overall offensive development stagnates, it’s clear that Douglas – who won both the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award and the league scoring title his senior year at Florida State – has more than one rotation-ready skill to wield.

As for his prospects as a reliable floor general, the jury might as well pitch their tents and order takeout for at least the next year. There’s no shortage of folks who believe Douglas would be better served simply focusing on improving his scoring prowess (and efficiency) and forging a niche as an effective, off-the-bench combo guard and defensive stopper. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time Douglas had to face up to doubts about his decision-making and overall distributive skills; the last time it happened, in the wake of a Freshman year at Auburn which saw then-coach Jeff Lebo insist on playing him at the two spot, Douglas just up and left, transferring to a school (FSU) that promised to play him at the one. Douglas may have gotten his wish, but the point guard gods didn’t necessarily get theirs; Douglas would average  exactly 2.9 assists per game in each of his last three seasons. Like, exactly. Weird, right?

TD clearly wants to be a point guard. Really bad. Which is cool – admirable, even. Here’s the thing though: I think I’d make a good President. I really do. Would I make a good President? No. No I would not. Luckily for TD – and possibly 320 million other Americans –  he’s much closer to actualizing his potential as a point guard than I am to legalizing marijuana, slashing the defense budget by 90 percent, or signing an executive order deeming “We Built This City” the new national anthem. Let alone doing all three of them.

Unfortunately, the lockout and surgery-recovery double whammy will doubtless impede what was supposed to be a crucial summer of development for Douglas, who turns 26 next March. By then, most point guards capable of making the leap from serviceable stopgap to reliable NBA starter – or, in the case of now-mentor Chauncey Billups, full-blown star – have either done so, or are in the noticeable process of doing so. Needless to say, if the 2011-12 NBA Season follows the previous lockout’s season-shortened script, few players (with the possible exception of rookies Iman Shumpert and Josh Harrelson, and second year men Landry Fields and Andy Rautins) will be the worse for it than Toney Douglas.

But the real concern has to be the shoulder. As many an athlete understand all too well, it’s the sort of thing which — without the proper treatment — can linger for a long, long time. Treatment being the operative word here: Thanks to the lockout (or, as I like to call it, the %$&*-out, due to the interlocutors’ seemingly preternatural urge to wave their %$&*s around instead of, you know, talking) Douglas will not have the luxury of the Knick medical staff and trainers, who’d typically be tasked with helping expedite the recovery process.

Now, clearly a dude making even low seven figures can afford his own doctors and physical therapists. But it’s not as easy as simply having your extra-organizational healer consult with the team staff as to the desired recovery regimen; “no contact”, it turns out, means no contact. Indeed, Douglas’ plight only throws into higher, uglier relief the scorched earth effects that a protracted labor dispute can impart — even on the seeming periphery of NBA life. For this and many other reasons (paranoiadelusions of grandeur, batshit craziness, etc.) let’s just hope that this week’s talks yield something in the way of progress. Otherwise, things could get very, very weird.

Cuz you know what happens if Toney can’t get a decent massage for his shoulder? So long, professional basketball. Hello, professional tumbleweed distribution.

And nobody wants that.

 

Report Card (5 point scale):

Offense: 2
Defense: 5
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 3

Final Grade: B+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS eFG PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
0 Toney Douglas 2011 NYK 15.2 53.4 51.1 15.6 1.2 4.5 4.5 1.6 0.1 1.6
0.039 Trent Tucker 1984 NYK 13.6 51.8 50.7 14.1 1.3 3.8 4 1.8 0.2 1.6
0.065 C.J. Watson 2009 GSW 14.2 56.4 50 14 0.7 3.7 3.9 1.8 0.1 1.8
0.069 Jim Thomas 1985 IND 13 53.4 48.3 15.5 1.3 4.6 4.1 1.3 0.1 2.3
0.073 Kyle Macy 1982 PHO 15.7 57 53.5 14.7 1 3.3 4.9 1.8 0.1 1.6
0.077 Steve Alford 1989 TOT 11.9 52.2 48.8 14.5 0.4 2.9 3.7 1.8 0.1 1.8
0.091 Smush Parker 2006 LAL 13.4 54.8 52.4 12.2 0.5 3.5 3.9 1.8 0.2 1.9
0.091 Antonio Daniels 2000 SAS 15.2 54.1 50.6 12.7 0.5 2.6 5.3 1.7 0.2 1.7
0.092 Paul Graham 1992 ATL 14.7 52.3 48.8 16.6 1.5 4.8 3.7 2 0.4 1.9
0.093 Ronnie Price 2008 UTA 12.3 51.6 49.5 14 0.5 2.8 4.8 2 0.2 1.8
0.101 Craig Hodges 1985 MIL 11.8 55.2 52.3 12.6 1.1 2.7 5 1.4 0 1.9

Melo vs Goodman League Summer Ball

It’s great to see NBA players keeping active during the lockout.  With almost no progress made in labor talks thus far, professional leagues across the country have had to schedule their own games. Two of the most prominent leagues this Summer have been the Melo League in Baltimore and the George Goodman League of Washington D.C.  This past Tuesday, August 30th, these teams met on the court at Morgan State University for some friendly competition.  The Baltimore team featured three all-stars – LeBron, Melo, and Chris Paul – as well as Josh Selby (just drafted 49th by the Grizzlies) and Gary Neal of the Spurs. The Goodman league roster wasn’t as flashy, with Durant being their only star, backed up by Ty Lawson, Austin Daye, and Jarrett Jack.

The story of the night was Durant dropping 59. Though obviously the game was laid back and very little defense was played, 59 is still an impressive number – especially while being guarded by LeBron. Durant’s team fell, however, 149-141 when all was said and done.  Here are some of the highlights from the game – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LdzNpSsWp0 .

Notably, this was ‘Melo’s first game since recovering from an elbow injury suffered towards the end of this past season. “I’m back like I never [was hurt]. I’m back,” said Anthony after the game. He had a very good showing. He was quick to the basket and got up to throw it down a few times. Though there was no official box score kept, it is reported Carmelo scored 34. Seems promising for the year to come, and games like this can only help to expedite further labor talks.