It Just Ain’t Right

A Revolution is not a Dinner Party!” – Mao Tse Tung

At some point in the not-too-distant future, when the moneyed men in smoky back rooms have figured out how to properly monetize online content, we all may look back at the wild and woolly wars between “legitimate” sports (and other) journalists and mere “Writing in their Mom’s basement in ill-fitting underwear” sports (and other) bloggers with a semi-bemused chuckle. Maybe once those ink-stained wretches can only be read on this here computation machine and the printing press has gone the way of Ye Olde Blacksmith Shoppe, the perception of the differences between the Altacockers and us whippersnappers by the public will be far less clear/visible and possibly meaningful.

But for now, there does exist the notion in the collective zeitgeist that their seat in the press box and swell salary means that the stuff they scribble is, you know, the real deal. And our yeoman efforts are something akin to an incredibly time-consuming hobby. The finest example is Buzz Bissinger’s hissy-fit (to put it nicely) on the Costas Show v. Will Leitch.

(In his defense, I have to say that Buzz is a damned fine writer. His book, Friday Night Lights [pre-movie, pre-TV show] is thoughtful, incisive, and ego-free. Alas, this factoid unfortunately makes him seem even more like a crotchety old coot on a porch in a fly-over state somewhere, menacingly wielding a twelve-gauge in one hand and a mug of ‘shine in the other while bellowing, “Danged kids! Git the hell offa my lawn!” in the above clip.)

I unleash this lengthy preamble because I think it’s actually important, if the media (again, sports and otherwise) are going to hold themselves up as the true foot soldiers of the fourth estate, to point out when one of their more esteemed members outright MAKES SHIT UP.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Peter Vescey.

I warn you, dear readers, this next bit is going to get a bit mean, even bloody. But like the quote from The Chairman up top, if we’re gonna win hearts and minds, there are going to have to be a few casualties along the way.

If you didn’t wanna plunk down a buck twenty-five on Sunday’s NY Post, in sum, Vescey devotes a chunk of his column to describing how Rondo’s become Boston’s best player this year (PV punningly refers to him as, “Ron-Dough,” b/c, you know he’s so money. Rim-shot.). He then mentions that a BOS-PHO finals would have been interesting b/c it would have pitted Rondo against the team that dumped him in the ’06 draft. He writes:

For those who’ve forgotten, the Kentucky sophomore was selected No. 21, overall, June 28, 2006, by the Suns. An hour or so afterward, Phoenix traded him to Boston with Brian Grant for a No. 1 pick in 2007.

At the risk of repeating something I’ve probably written before, D’Antoni was behind the Suns’ fleeting glance at Ron-Dough. No sooner had they drafted him than D’Antoni proclaimed it was unlikely he would use him, because “he can’t shoot.”

So, rather than keep a guy the coach already was down on, someone who was assured of banking $1.5M or so for two or three years, owner Robert Sarver ordered his staff to find Ron-Dough a new home.

Stop. Stop right there. That makes absolutely no sense.

According to Vescey (without a “source” for his info, even an unnamed source – just something he may or may not [he can’t remember] have written), this is the way the ’06 draft went in the Suns’ war room…

1. The Suns decide to pick Rondo at 21. Even though D’Antoni was both coach and GM of the team, he somehow has no input on this choice or even seems to know that Rondo might be the pick.

2. The Suns take Rondo and inform their Coach/GM who only now opines that Rondo might not work in his system.

3. Owner Robert Sarver then thinks, “Geez, if Coach isn’t going to play/doesn’t like Rondo, I guess we better trade him.”

4. Then, within an hour (Vescey’s timeline, not mine), Sarver finds a team (Boston) to take Rondo off their hands and complete a complex deal to trade him along w/Brian Grant for a future first.

So many holes in this, where to begin?

If D’Antoni didn’t like Rondo, the Suns knew this well in advance of the draft. There’s NO WAY Phoenix took him and then and only then did D’Antoni proclaim (again, Vescey’s words) that he wasn’t any good or couldn’t use him because of his shooting deficiencies. That’s just not how teams operate (even crappy ones) and Vescey knows that. I guess one could assume that Sarver overruled Coach/GM Mike and took Rondo contrary to his wishes. But if that’s the case, why would they then trade him on the Coach/GM’s say-so (the same Coach/GM they had just overruled to select him) literally moments later? That makes even less sense.

How about a plausible scenario — Phoenix (and by “Phoenix” I mean Robert Sarver, the guy cutting the checks) didn’t want to hold on to their first rounder (because of $$, just like they did in dumping Luol Deng the year before and would again two years later when they gave Seattle TWO first rounders to take Kurt Thomas off their hands) and selected Rondo for Boston (in exchange for dumping Grant’s salary) in a trade worked out well in advance of the draft. Considering Ainge said he considered taking Rondo at seven (before trading the pick for Telfair), isn’t that a far more credible analysis of what occurred?

So why concoct a clearly fictional narrative? To take a cheap shot at D’Antoni with Rondo’s emergence as a top five PG, as if the events are somehow intertwined. It’s intellectually dishonest at best and probably better described as outright mean-spirited and slimy work whose only point is to sell papers and treats you and I (the ostensible readers of this drivel) like a gaggle of knuckle-dragging Neanderthals who are incapable of recognizing a clearly silly argument as long as it allows us to screech, “Yeah! MD’A sucks!”

Why not let Vescey write that tiny Aliens that serve the ghost of Red Auerbach have been controlling D’Antoni’s mind for years and thus engineered the deal to help the C’s return to glory. That makes as much sense and is probably as verifiable as Vescey’s dreck. I know Petey’s writing an “editorial” of sorts so this is therefore “opinion” and not as subject to fact-checking as straight “news” might be, but come on!

If one of us interwebbers wrote what Good Ol’ Petey did on or some fan-forum, they’d be mocked and offered up to the hordes as another example of why one can’t trust mere blogs because they lack the insider info and years of experience that the beat scribes have. So if the sportswriters of the world want to continue to cling to the notion of superiority, then it’s their collective responsibility to call out their peers when they sling outright crap like the Post did this weekend.

But since I have a better chance of starting at PG for the Knicks next year than that happening, I feel the need to support/defend of all my unfairly marred, unnamed e-colleagues out there. And I write this not only because my (possibly too finely tuned) hackles are easily raised by incidents in print/on the web that smack of hypocrisy and the (possibly archaic) belief that true journalism is an important part of a well-functioning democracy, but because the oft-repeated venom that is directed towards “The NY Media” and how it can be turn-off for potential free-agents is a result of things like THIS.

Not the constant coverage, not the legit criticism of their play, it’s when the Vesceys of the the sporting world, when they’ve got nothing else to write about, will just plain make stuff up that they know to be untrue that athletes/celebs from all the major sports decide it might be wise to head for the less media-saturated hills. It’s hard enough to read that someone thinks that you suck (and as a playwright/actor, I’ve had to suffer through this [though on a FAR lower scale]) when it’s merited. So when D’Antoni picks up the paper and has to read that somehow Rondo’s great play = proof of his deficiencies as a coach/talent evaluator, it has to be infuriating.

And if we want ANY of the big-time free agents (like maybe a guy whose name rhymes with SheShmron Shrames) to suit up for the Knickerbockers in 2010-11, it’s up to us — the bloggers, the fans, the maddening throng — to say…

…that it just ain’t right.

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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

26 thoughts to “It Just Ain’t Right”

  1. Vescey thrives on discord and bilious innuendo. Negativity is his oxygen. When I first came to the NYC area, I mistakenly expected all New Yorkers to be like this. He’s a horrendous caricature of New York nerve. That he once had a prominent role in national NBA telecasts is hilarious.

    A few years ago, Vescey’s numerous errors in a column annoyed me, and I wrote to him. I was taken aback (but not really surprised) by the nasty note he sent back, saying something like “get lost, you little jerk.”

    It’s much, much harder to be a self-important know-it-all in the age of the internet. Long live the blogs!

    (And, sure, Rondo, in hindsight, would be a great player to have. But point guard hasn’t exactly been Phoenix’s weakness in the last few years. They seem to have some guy that plays that role pretty well.)

  2. Vescey is tedious and generally unfunny it seems a week can’t go by w/o soem forced long since unfunny refernce to Shawn Kemp’s paternity issues, sniping at Charles Barkley (he is still bitter that NBC/TNT canned him) and reminding people that he once coached Nate Archibald in the Rucker league back in the 1970s. That being said compared to Marc Berman Vescey is a basketball genius.

  3. Great stuff! Hard to feel too much sympathy for the struggling newspaper business when they print crap like that.

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I doubt it’s a big consideration for most free agents. Especially someone like LeBron whose every movement is analyzed on a national level anyway, and has been since high school.

    “something I only wish I could do with Mark Jackson”

    I just hit mute. I do like when JVG occasionally calls him out and is just like “what are you talking about?”

  4. Best part is when Vecsey constantly takes shots at JVG for being a horrible announcer but he always praises Mark Jackson. Seriously.

  5. Yikes, the slot machine scares me. First spin, I got Miami with LeBron, Wade, AND Boozer. Knicks get nothing.

    Second spin: Heat get Wade, Bosh, and Johnson. Knicks get no one.

    Did Pat Riley program this thing?

  6. OK, here’s what I think will happen.

    Knicks make a big splash on draft day, sending Curry to the Sixers, while the Sixers send Evan Turner and Elton Brand to the Wolves, who send Al Jefferson and the rights to Ricky Rubio to the Knicks.

    FA time, things look bleak, but the Knicks get SOME value by S&Ting Lee to the Thunder for Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and Thabo Sefolosha.

    Team looks like this (Depth chart, starters listed first by position):

    PG – Douglas
    SG – Chandler, Sefolosha
    SF – Green, Walker
    PF – Gallinari, Barron
    C – Jefferson, Krstic

    Where’s Rubio? Still in Spain…for this year. Knicks will bring him in after his contract with Barcelona expires.
    The Knicks will re-sign Earl Barron for another year after caving and giving him the guaranteed money. This will still give the Knicks the flexibility to draft anyone they want (uh, beforehand, yeah. That’s it!) They MIGHT re-sign Duhon for the veteran’s minimum.

    Oh yeah, Kiku, I gave it a spin, and on spin 5 got LeBron AND Bosh coming to NY. Weird, eh?

  7. Sorry for the double post, but here’s where I think everyone’s going.

    LeBron, Wade and Amar’e will stay with their teams.

    JoeJohn goes to Washington in an S&T for Gilbert Arenas.

    Already explained DLee. (See above.)

    Dirk – Goes to Jersey. He’s sick of Cuban and all his shenanegans, but can’t resist the allure of another tall, crazy, incredibly rich 40-something owner.

    Boozer – Dallas. Replaces Dirk.

    Finally, Bosh – CLEVELAND. Big S&T sending Jamison, Hickson, and Mo Williams and a ton of picks for Boshie and Hedo. (Williams is strickly money filler for the deal.)

  8. @8

    Toronto would have to be pretty stupid to make that sign and trade. They’d be swapping one bad contract (Hedo) for an even worse one (Jamison), and gift-wrapping Bosh to the Cavs for Williams, Hickson and a draft picks that will never be higher than number 30. That’s an awful lot of pretty useless stuff that Toronto is getting in return.

  9. @8

    Toronto would have to be pretty stupid to make that sign and trade. They’d be swapping one bad contract (Hedo) for an even worse one (Jamison), and gift-wrapping Bosh to the Cavs for Williams, Hickson and a draft picks that will never be higher than number 30. That’s an awful lot of pretty useless stuff that Toronto is getting in return.

  10. Loathing– interesting scenarios. I’d be shocked if the Knicks turn Eddy Curry into Ricky Rubio. Seems like to make that 3 team trade fair Philly would end up with Rubio and we’d just bag Jefferson. And OKC doesn’t need to do a sign and trade. They can sign Lee outright, and if a S&T was done I doubt they’d give up the player who logged the 2nd most minutes on the team. Green is young, cheap, and a major part of their winning team.

    Turning Lee or Curry into 3 serviceable human beings isn’t a bad idea, though, since the Knicks need roster spots filled. How do we feel about Nocioni, Udrih, and/or Garcia?

  11. “Turning Lee or Curry into 3 serviceable human beings isn’t a bad idea, though, since the Knicks need roster spots filled. How do we feel about Nocioni, Udrih, and/or Garcia?”

    Nocioni’s career is more or less over. He’s 31, only had a few decent seasons, and hasn’t been good since he was on chicago 2 years ago.

    Udrih is completely average — about on par with Luke Ridnour. Wouldn’t sign him for more than a couple of years or for more than a $2 million/year. He seems to go through shooting slumps/have head problems – look at his game log from before Evans was there:;_ylt=Aj6l53Ks1CX1dsXuMtXNQfMKPaB4?year=2008

    He’d slump, lose minutes, then climb back into the rotation.

    Garcia is the best of the three by far. He is the only one who is elite in any way – he’s a really good spot up shooter. He’s not a jacker like eddie house and shoots a much higher percentage as well. I’d say he’s worth about $4 million per year.

    But wait, why are we talking about these scrubs from Sacramento?

  12. In addition, to the fiction that Vescey writes, he also comes off as simply a nasty guy. Both in his writing and in his television career, he always sounds like a bitter, and angry guy. I never read his stuff anymore. The only local newspaper IMHO who has a basketball savy journalist is Newsday with Alan Hahn. I didn’t want to spend the money reading him online, so I do not even have access to his opinion anymore though..

    And why is Vescey always shilling for Mark Jackson? I never got that connection.

  13. Al Jefferson is one of the few centers in the league who are worse defensively than David Lee. Green is probably an average defender. That would maybe be the worst defensive frontcourt in the league and an offensive downgrade from Lee/Harrington.

    I also don’t think either of those trades happens, though, for the reasons given above: OKC doesn’t need to s&t for Lee (plus probably wouldn’t give up 3 rotation players if they did) and Philly probably doesn’t give away #2 straight up to get rid of Brand.

    Sefalosha was 2nd team All-Defense this season… doubt OKC is in a rush to give him away. He’s got at least 4 more years at an average of about $3.5 mill.
    I would be looking to move Green now if I were Presti, though. They were 10 pts/100 possessions worse with him on defense last season and only 0.8 pts/100 better on O. He’s not a PF and has a career reb% under 10. He’s a medium-low efficiency scorer. Yet he’s apparently looking for a $10 mill+ per deal after next season… Now might be the best time to get value for him.

  14. “wait, why are we talking about these scrubs from Sacramento?”

    Oh, no reason really. They are just 3 guys with long-term contracts that outweigh their usefulness that can, theoretically, be had in exchange for Curry. Don’t worry. There’s no insider report that Donnie Walsh thinks Andres Nocioni would be a perfect 5 in the D’Antoni system…

  15. I have no interest in any of those guys, except Lee of course. I’d rather load up on rookies (spray and pray) and hope we hit on a useful one.
    I’m still intrigued by Vasquez. Yes he’s flawed as a point guard, but as a 2 guard, he could be a great fit next to Douglas. Vasquez could bring the ball up, but Douglas could guard the point. Also, Vasquez’s average outside shooting won’t be an issue between Douglas, Gallo, and maybe Lee. We could really maximize Vasquez’s best ability, the drive/kick out, in this way. And he seems like a very good passer. He would also give us a vocal leader if we come up empty on the free agent front.
    This is really just one scenario if we miss on the top free agents. I would also like Jordan Crawford as a young guy who can take games over (again, in case we come up empty) or possibly Willie Warren. Then we would also need a big to play next to Lee, I would prefer Jerome Jordan.
    Of course, we’ll probably get LBJ/Bosh and we won’t have to worry about the 2nd rounders playing much, but I’d rather audition a bunch of youngsters than get stuck with Gay/Johnson and have no cap space.

  16. Don’t get me wrong, ess-dog, I think those potential 2nd rounders (Vasquez, Crawford, and Jordan) are as legitimate of candidates as any. My biggest thing at that point in the draft, though, is talent rather than fit. I mean that’s my thing at any point in the draft, but more so in the 2nd than in the top 5 or something because of the lower supply of quality players by the 2nd round. As a max free agent Arenas or Boozer might not fit with your team, but you’d still regret drafting Trenton Hassell or Steve Logan over them in the 2nd round.

    If those 3 guys aren’t good enough to play in the NBA it’s not going to matter how perfect a fit they are. Just like Balkman (work ethic/religious beliefs…) and Mardy (talent). If they are good enough then the fit will be a nice bonus. I have serious questions about whether Vasquez or Crawford has the athleticism to play in the NBA and whether Jordan has the “motor.” Of course, it’s the 2nd round and I have serious questions about all of the candidates. I like those three as 2nd rounders and will probably be on board if the Knicks take two of them, I’m just saying I’d look at talent rather than fit.

    Agree 100% about slow rebuild > Gay/Johnson. Walsh has made positive comments in that regard, saying that clearing space was the right move whether they use it this offseason or next.

    Even with LeBron/Bosh, getting a quality rotation player or two or three from this draft is important. Hard (and dangerous) to get too excited about 2 2nd rounders, but as a nutjob Knicks fan this is a huge opportunity.

    Also, the Knicks have to make their draft selections before they’re likely to know whether they missed on LeBron and co.

  17. @19,

    If Miami wants to play that game, we can send Eddy Curry, Wilson Chandler, and David Lee to Toronto for Bosh and Jose Calderon. I doubt LeBron leaves (and I hope so in this case), so they’d end up with Wade, Gay, and Stoudemire/Boozer. This team may look formidable, but they will age terribly in three years. LeBron/Wade/Bosh won’t work, especially under Mr. Spoelstra. Now if they get Phil Jackson and Bosh/Wade/LeBron, I’d cry.

  18. Jackson. Is. Not. Going. To. Miami.

    He’s either gonna stay with his girlfriend, or go back to where he started it all, and he just said he ain’t gonna do that. he’s staying with Mr. Kobe.

  19. @21,

    So essentially, if Miami gets three max guys, it’ll be a waste. At best, the team would look like Bledsoe/Wade/Gay/Stoudemire/Varnado plus James Jones, Daequan Cook, and some vets signing at the minimum like Miller and Bell. And I doubt Spoelstra gets them over the top. They’d have to get Larry Brown or somebody to be a legit scare for the title, and more importantly, the Lakers and Dallas. I really don’t believe LeBron and Bosh will go to Miami with Wade. If this happens, I hope Donnie doesn’t have a heart attack, or even worse, get Johnson, Boozer, and *gulp* trade for Arenas (joking, Donnie dieing would be worse). Then we’re back to 2004.

    This year’s draft is going to be interesting.

  20. I’ve been thinking, and I’ve come to the conclusion that if Wade wants to team up with a good big, he should just come to New York. I think that Wade + Bosh/Stoudemire/Lee/Boozer would work in New York better than Miami because:
    a) We have a better supporting cast in place already.
    b) I’d say Mike D is better than Spoelstra. The only reason Miami was in the playoffs is because Wade had a spectacular March.
    c) Everything Miami can offer, we can offer excepting warm winters. We can get him a max partner, we can pay him, we have a great night scene. Even if he wants another all-star caliber player, I consider Eddy Curry’s contract as cap space (34 + 11= 45), so we’ll have money for either two quality starters (Collison + Okafor), an overpaid but useful player (Davis, Biedrins, Rip, Ben Gordon), or a “stud” like Tony Parker.
    d) We have better fans.
    e) His endorsement deals would go through the roof (unless he’s playing with LeBron).

    I think Wade needs to snap out of this whole Miami thing, and look for a fresh start in New York (Chicago is home to Wade, not new like NY). Seriously, he can’t score 30 a game forever.

  21. Also, I think if we bring in a good ball handler at PG, I think Wade will still thrive. He’ll just have to play more like Manu does under Pops; a primary scorer when “Parker” (in theory) is on court, and when Parker comes off court, he’ll run the offense. Unless they want to keep the space, make Douglas take on the Manu role, and have Wade be the primary ball-handler. This of course is if we get Wade, but I’ll take LeBron too. I’ll just feel bad for Cleveland when the Browns, Cavs, and Indians suck. Cleveland and Miami both suck as sports towns anyway.

  22. Why can’t Miami win a title with Spoelstra? He’s only been an NBA coach for 2 seasons and neither of those teams had any shot at a title. He grew up around the NBA his entire life, was hand picked by Pat Riley as his successor, and appears to be one of the best defensive coaches in the league. The chances are stacked against any head coach winning a title, but I would in no way be shocked if the 39 year old Erik Spoelstra wins a title before he retires.

    “The only reason Miami was in the playoffs is because Wade had a spectacular March.”

    Miami was in the playoffs because of its defense, not offense. They were the 6th best defense and 19th best offense in the regular season (Knicks, in comparison, had the 17th best offense). Wade carried their mediocre offense, but their defense is why they were any good.

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