Monthly Archives: March 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm Bans April Fools Day Jokes From Link Lists

The Series Of Tubes, USA- Hardwood Paroxysm owner, Matt Moore, stunned the internet today by banning all April Fools’ Day jokes from Hardwood Paroxysm.

“If I can’t allow all April Fools’ Day Jokes in, it’s not fair for me to let anyone in. There’s just not enough room on the links section for everyone,” Moore told reporters today in a statement on his blog, BlogMattrick.

The ban comes after several April Fools’ Day Jokes insinuated a rift between Matt Moore and cooperative partner and heterosexual life-mate, Matthew Cornelius, AKA, the Corndogg.

“There is no rift; I repeat, it’s a non-story. Aside from the fact that he’s a (expletive deleted) (expletive deleted) that likes to (expletive deleted) his own (expletive deleted). And his Epic Carnival column sucks, too! And you can tell him I said that!” Cornelius commented outside of his scenic North Carolina home as he prepared to hex the North Carolina Tarheels with “everything in the black mass that passes for (his) soul.”

The question of banning April Fools’ Day jokes comes at an especially conspicuous time for HP, after Matt traded actually posting about basketball for continuous commentary on owners’ reactions to blogging and indulging in delusions of grandeur regarding his own importance. Thus far, the return on that trade has proved negligible at best, and with his ability to produce fresh commentary still injured after Kobe Bryant Blog Day, there’s talk of HP missing the post-season entirely.

Mr. Moore insists that this issue has nothing to do with any specific April Fools’ Day joke.

“It’s really a question of whether or not the common April Fools’ Day joke can compete with the latest laugh-romp from Jay Mariotti or trade dagger-sharp wits with Skip Bayless. I feel that April Fools’ Day Jokes should have that opportunity, but until we can develop a clear standard by which to judge these jokes, we’re just not going to be able to let them in. Unless they work for me. Or I like them.”

In a bizarre twist, HP has actually opened up this post as an entry form for writers to submit their own April Fools’ Day jokes. If they are deemed worthy by His Greatness, the Grand Mattness, they will be given personal access to HP’s daily link list, the Great Exercises In Naming Your Link Dump Something Too Long.

“I just want to give your average April Fools’ Day Joke the chance to compete with the big guys, you know?”

Shiny New Clipper: An Interview With The Clippers’ Marcus Williams

The NBA is a league where upside is everything. Potential is such a primary part of negotiations and evaluation, sometimes it seems that it matters more than what actually happens on the court. A lot of the time, guys have a ton of potential, but never put the effort in. Funny thing. Marcus Williams has got that potential, and he’s putting it to good use.

Williams came out of Arizona after a stellar season. Many projected that had he come back to school, he would have been a lottery pick the following year. There was a lot of doubt about whether he was NBA-ready. But Williams truly believed he could play now and wanted to take his opportunity. He was drafted by the Spurs, brought to camp, then released. He signed with the Spurs’ Austin Toros and worked on his defensive game all year, coming into his own.

Now, I’m really not big on player predictions. I think they depend on too many factors, are too subjective, and should be left to scouts.

Marcus Williams will start inside three years. I truly believe that.

Watching him, it’s got nothing to do with his jaw-dropping performances on the court against the D-League. The league itself admits that there’s a lot more to preparing a player for the NBA than just having that player fill up the stat-sheet. But Williams’ progression on the court is apparent. He’s developed into a defensive specialist. He was aware early on that the biggest thing the NBA is looking for in call-up players is defense. So he committed himself to that end. And it paid off.

In a span of three games, I saw Williams defend a 7-0 center prospect for the Pistons, a 6-5 shooting guard with NBA experience, and a 6-8 combo forward with NBA talent. He also averaged 28 points in those games. And 7 rebounds. It’s not the stats, though, it’s the commitment. I talked with his coach in the D-League, Quin Snyder, and he raved about the commitment Marcus made on defense this season.

“You’ve got a young guy like that, and learning to really commit themselves to the defensive end is hard. But he really took it in stride and made it something to hang his hat on. He’s obviously got the physical tools and the offensive ability. He’s a great shooter. But he’s proven that he’s willing to put the work in, in order to get himself to that level.”

Williams put in the work, and it paid off for him. He received a contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, who he had worked out with before last year’s draft, for the remainder of the season. I spoke with Marcus via telephone about Austin, getting called up, his commitment to defense, and his favorite flick.

HP: For you this was more of an expectation, given your talent, youth, and upside. Were you still excited when you found out?

MW: Oh, yeah, it’s still a feeling of excitement. I’d been playing well, but it’s a real pleasure to get called up finally. In the NBA you hear rumors, but until it happens and you sign the contract and get your uniform, you’re always wondering.

HP: Can you take me through how you felt when you found out you’d been signed again, this time for the remainder of the season?

MW: I was at the mall in LA, and I got the call. I was like “Wow.” I tried to play it cool, I told my friend who was with me. I was trying to play it cool, but he says I said it with this huge smile, though. I get a chance to show what I can do, and I’m looking forward to it.

HP: What have the Clips told you about their plans for you?

MW: Just bits and pieces. I’ve got a good chance to get some playing time, which is great. They just say I’ve got to learn the plays. Mostly they’ve said, “Just play how you play”. I’m hoping I can make an imapact on defense and be a playmaker. All I can do is show how I can play and if they’re interested in me long term, that’s up to me and how I perform.

HP: How do think the D-League helped you develop your game, and do you think it was a major part of getting you to this point?

MW: The D-League helped me a lot. I give a lot of credit to Coach Snyder. For a young guy like me to actually get as much playing time as I did in Austin was huge. The D-League was great for me, personally. It’s got a lot of resemblance to the NBA game. There are guys down there with legitimate NBA talent you can test yourself against. I did a lot of growing down there.

HP: Do you know anybody on the Clippers?

MW: Nick Fazekas. Al Thornton. They were in the rookie system, so I knew them from a couple of events. None of the veterans, though.

HP: How has the reception been for you?
It was good, everyone was cool. The team was great, actually. The whole organization has a really positive attitude, even though they’re going through some tough times.

HP: You told me a little over a week ago that you thought defense was the most important thing you’ve worked on, and it’s been something the coaches have commented on in the D-League. Do you feel your defense is NBA-ready?

MW: I think it’s going to have to be. As a role guy, to impact the game, I’m going to need to impact it on the defensive end. I need to get into the passing lanes and disrupt the opposing offense. that’s my biggest focus, that and just making plays when and where I can.

HP: What position in the NBA do you think you’re best suited to play at right now, the 2 or the 3?

MW: I can play both. I talked to the Clippers, and they think I can play both. I’ll probably lean towards the three but I can play both.

HP: After your first game, what kind of feedback did they give you?

MW: They told me I’m gonna play more, I just gotta learn the playbook. They gave me a set of plays to start learning, to get my feet wet. I’ll work with the coaches. The more I learn the plays, I can be more fluent everywhere on the court.

HP: Was it a big thrill for you getting the call-up?

MW: Big thrill. Really big thrill realizing I was going to be in LA. I had a workout with the Clippers for the draft, so I knew they liked me. It feels good to be here. Great crowd, plus, we got a win on the first night so hopefully things are off to a good start.

HP: What do you do in your spare time?

MW: I’m really into music and movies. I’m kind of a homebody, since it’s so rigorous playing ball all the time. Usually I just like to chill and listen to my iPod.

HP: What’s your favorite artist?

MW: Lil’ Wayne, man.

HP: And your favorite movie?

MW: Goodfellas.

HP: Finally, have the Clippers talked to you about a long term contract, if they like what they see of you through the rest of this season?

MW: They haven’t gotten into that. It depends on how I perform. I’ve got a lot to go, but as time progresses, that might come into effect, they’ve told me.

HP: Marcus, congratulations on the call-up, and good luck.

MW: Thanks, man, I appreciate that.

Ball Movements 3.31.08

Reasons To Watch The Games Of The NBA Tonight:

“Dirty South” Is Probably An Appropriate Term In This Instance: You know, you’d never believe it, but the Grizzlies are actually playing pretty well. I mean, they have an absolute army of athletic point guards. They have some speed. They have some size. They’re really playing pretty well. Meanwhile, so are the Hawks. They’re finally, finally, FINALLY pulling away from the pack in the Eastern Conference, and look like they’re headed to the postseason. The athleticism and talent is starting to overcome their other issues, and Joe Johnson is still playing really well. Great matchup tonight between these two. I’m really stunned I’m about to say this, but this might be the best game to watch tonight, if you care at all about defense. Otherwise, there’s…

To Whom Does This Game Mean More (Via the Corndogg): The Suns beat the Nuggs at home tonight and they are tied for the lead in the Pacific (though, without the tiebreaker in their favor). The Nuggets win and they get better positioning to actually make the playoffs and keep J.R. Smith off the streets for a couple extra weeks (The whole world rejoices!). But, if could go 50/50 if they each win at home or each win on the road, since they get back to backs against each other tonight and tomorrow. Its an odd scheduling snafu, but each of these teams could send a serious message with a mini-sweep these next two nights. The NBA, Where The Western Conference Happens!

There’s No Place Like Home. Because We Lose. EVERYwhere Else: The Jazz are back in the comfy confines of SLC tonight to take on the Wizards. The Wizards were in a dogfight last night to the very end with LA, so they may be a little bit exhausted tonight. The Jazz are coming off another loss to the Wolves. Yes. The Minnesota Timberwolves. Yes, this year without Garnett. But seeing Deron against Tuff Juice is always interesting. And hey, Gilbert could play! Not. Boozer meets Tuff Juice, tonight in Utah. Washington at Utah, 9PM EST.

A Classic Conundrum (Via the Corndogg): Is it better to be as awful as the Heat, with the potential to get Beasley or Rose in your future? Or, is it worse to be as middling and sub-mediocre as the Pacers, where neither the draft nor your awful contract situation will see major improvements in the offseason, but at least you aren’t the Knicks? The grass is always greener… except for when it’s dead.

Clear!:
Nurse: Male, 45-28, gunshot wound to the knee!

Doctor:
Let’s get him into surgery! Doctor, he’s hemorrhaging! Don’t you die on me, Mavericks! Don’t you quit on me! I need 20 CCs of playing the Clippers, STAT! Live, damn you! Live!

That’s pretty much Mavs-Clippers tonight. Oh, and check out Marcus Williams for the Clippers off the bench (D-LEAGUE!). He’s going to start in three years. Write. It. Down. Dallas At LA Clippers, 10:30 PM EST.

They Are On So Many Roller Coasters, They Might As Well Get A Stadium At Carowinds (Via the Corndogg): The Bobcats are faced with many crazy decisions. Are we a good lottery team or a bad lottery team? Are we more desperate for a big time power forward of a big time combo guard? Will Sam Vincent get the ax or will Jordan? Or will, God forbid, neither of them get it? Its a kookie time to be a Charlotte fan, but with a team that at least intermittently shows it has winning potential (more than can be said for about 25% of the league), you have got to figure these next couple of weeks are going to be some serious, inspired play. Either for those trying to keep their jobs (players and coaches alike) or for those who just want to rub the actual ability to step on the court in Morrison’s face. Well, they still might do that next year, when he is healthy. Ha ha. Oh, and tonight, they get throttled by the Raps, who are sharpening their claws (sorry, couldn’t help it) for a playoff run spot.

In Due Respect: A Mavs Moneyball Writer On Cuban’s Request

This comment popped up in the other post, and I wanted to post it to get people’s thoughts on it. I’m tempted to respond in a myriad of ways, including challenging him on the fact that he did apply on Cuban’s blog, and certainly to answer the calls that I’m being arrogant by not applying. But this is a place for discussion, and his voice certainly warrants being heard. Maybe he’s right, even though I’ve actually done some legit reporting on here. The only thing I will say is that when I posted the piece about not applying, the unanimous response (up until this comment) was “Don’t sell yourself short.” So even though I may not think I’m that big of a deal, certain bloggers I respect (and I’d mention my readers do too), advised me to stick with my guns.

Here’s the comment:

As I wrote about on mavsmoneyball.com, I applied for credentials way back in July of last year. I was turned down because the front office policy wasn’t to credential Internet-only sites. So, in my opinion, Mark is simply giving the little guy a chance. He’s done it in a rather awkward and easy-to-criticize way, but I’m sure he really doesn’t much care.

Frankly, I’m rather shocked by the arrogance on display by the hobbyist bloggers. We aren’t at all journalists here. We’re part-time guys getting our opinions and analyses out. As much as I think the Dallas sports media generally stink, they reach hundreds of thousands of people and it makes sense for the Mavs to credential them. Should every Tom, Dick, and Harry blogger get credentials? C’mon, you read the comments to Cuban’s post. Some of them in the locker room would be downright embarrassing.

Henry at Truehoop is right that there should be SOME kind of criteria, because I do think there are some pretty good part-time bloggers out there doing better work than lazy mainstream media journalists. But how do you decide? Cuban is basically saying, “Submit a writing sample,” which is about as good a way as any at this point.

If people think that having to audition for free game tickets, parking, and access to the locker room is beneath them, then they need to have their egos brought under control.

Update: BlogABull agrees with Jake. I should put a “Is Matt A Douchebag For Thinking He’s Credible?” poll or something. Wait, Corn will flood the poll with “Yes” answers.

Carlos Boozer Struggles With Something No One Should Have To

On a serious note, HP wants to extend positive thoughts or prayers or whatever it is we do for Carlos Boozer and his family. Boozer’s 22-month old son is recovering from sickle cell anemia, and that’s not something any family should have to live through.

Boozer got blasted after the Cleveland/Utah contract debacle, and he may have deserved it. But from everyone I’ve talked to, Boozer is a class act and a tremendously polite guy. Even if he wasn’t though, things like this are things no one should have to deal with.

Great Exercises In Internet NBA-Related Postings 3.31.08

Before we get started, slight format change. Based on some suggestions, I’ve set the links to open in a new tab or window. If you don’t like this, drop us an email or a comment and let us know. But with so many on there, I wanted readers to be able to go and come back more easily.

Powerless Rankings 3.31.08

With the NBA regular season nearing it’s end, we’re down to our last couple of chances to provide you with another round or two of our nearly meaningless reverse power rankings. First one to suck worst wins! This week I’m taking the D-League Eastern Conference while Bawful’s got the “race to 2nd place” Western Conference.

1. Miami Heat: When you feature eight D-Leaguers, and I can’t stomach watching you? They should just pipe in sounds of vomiting over the PA.

Basketbawful Says: The injury-riddled Heat are currently comprised of eight D-Leaguers and a couple of guys (Ricky Davis and Mark Blount) who might not even be good enough for the D-League at this point in their careers. Oh, and Pat Riley is only coaching every other game since he contracted an incurable case of March Madness. On the bright side, I read today that David Schwimmer is going to make his directorial debut with a “comedic film.” And what movie directed by Ross from Friends wouldn’t be funny?

2. New York Knickerbockers: A friend of mine called me this weekend. He and his girlfriend were discussing baby names. She said she wanted something biblical. She asked what his father’s name was. My friend told her. She put that name and the biblical name together and said it out loud, to hear how it sounded. My friend almost got punched in the face for laughing outright at the name. He immediately called me and asked me what would happen if he name his child Isiah Thomas Graham. I said the child would somehow manage to flunk preschool, and would pay $5 for a gumball, and think it was a good deal. When asked for the best way to define him, I said “Imagine someone that fails at everything except actually playing basketball.” She was still attached to the name. Then I told her about the trial from this summer. And that was that.

Basketbawful Says: It’s really starting to look like Isiah’s reign of terror in New York is ending. The only question left is: Who did more damage to the city: Isiah, the Cloverfield monster, or baby carrots? Explain your answer.

3. Milwaukee Bucks: Quick, outside of Yi, name something memorable from this Bucks season! Can’t do it, can you? Quietly forgettable. That should be Milwaukee’s slogan.

Basketbawful Says: I would have ranked this team lower/higher if not for the awesome one-man high-five Andrew Bogut gave himself this week. That’s way better than a meaningless win or two that would have hurt the team’s potential lottery position.

4. Chicago Bulls: This team really isn’t that bad. It’s really not. It’s just so far from good the distance causes vertigo. They’re sickeningly mediocre. And on top of that, it feels like there’s just this sense of malcontentedness in the air. It’s like a ’94 Silverchair concert after your girl dumped you for the guy that listens to Smash Mouth.

Basketbawful Says: Drew Gooden has one good game and then starts having delusions of grandeur that include throwing LeBron freaking James under the bus. Wow. Oh, and Chris Duhon even got into a game this week. The wheels are spinning, but this baby is going nowhere. Where you goin’? Nowhere!

5. Charlotte Bobcats: Three in a row! Woo-hoo! Three in a row! Woo-hoo! I would hop back on board the bandwagon for this team squeaking back into the playoffs, but every time I do, they bottom out like a wagon with the fat kid in it.

Basketbawful Says: I think this team might actually win 30 games this year, which is pretty amazing considering that Adam Morrison missed the entire season. I mean, they could have easily won, like, 31 or 32 games if only they’d had The ‘Stache. Oh well. If “What Ifs” where cheap whores, I’d be swimming in a pool of vag right now.

6. Indiana Pacers: Hey, 6-4 in their last 10, three games out of the playoff spot… nah. But I’m starting to think this team doesn’t necessarily have to blow the whole thing up. Anybody remember that guy that used to play for the Pacers? Jermaine….something…? Oh, there he is!

Basketbawful Says: Now that Donnie Walsh is heading to New York, er, I mean, now that Walsh has resigned and his “future plans are unclear,” the Pacers are officially Larry’s team. Which, of course, means they’re officially screwed. But Mike Dunleavy Jr. is totally having a breakout year, so they have that going for them.

7. New Jersey Nets: Here’s a pretty simple breakdown of the Nets-Mavs trade. The Mavs went from a complex team that can’t lose to a simple team that can’t win, and the Nets went from a conspicuously mediocre team to an inconspicuously mediocre team. It was like camouflage for guard play!

Basketbawful Says: What kind of crazy voodoo magic did Lawrence Frank use to bring Vince Carter’s game back to life? I need to know, and fast. My turtle hasn’t moved in a couple days and I’m starting to worry.

8. Philadelphia 76ers: Thank Jesus Christ On A Pogo Stick, the Sixers are coming back to Earth. They were seriously f’ing up my worldview there for a while, but maybe, just maybe, this is the same young, inconsistent team I’ve come to know and dismiss.

Basketbawful Says: You know, I’m starting to think the Sixers are for real. Like, really real. Like “Orlando might not even make it to the conference semis if they have to face these guys in the first round” real.

9. Atlanta Hawks: Starts off fasts, fades quickly, sneaks into the playoffs as an 8th seed, gets pounded in the first round and tossed to the wayside. Sound familiar? That was the now Southeastern Division Champions last year. I’m just saying.

Basketbawful Says: Why are the Hawks fighting so hard to get into the playoffs? That’s like dressing in chinos and a pink button-down shirt and walking around on the scary side of town where everybody gets their asses kicked.

10. Toronto Raptors: The Raptors got Bosh back, and were looking nice, and then the Hornets came to town and stripped them for parts, then set fire to the remains. It’s not that the Raptors can’t win in the playoffs, it’s that there are too many conditions on them. IF they can stay in the six spot so they face th Magic AND IF Bosh averages 33 and 15 AND IF TJ Ford remembers there are other guys on his team AND IF Jamario Moon comes up with some big shots AND IF Jason Kapono somehow replaces his skills with that of an actual in-game shooter this season, then yeah, I feel good about the Dinos later this month.

Basketbawful Says: Good news for bratty kids everywhere. T.J. Ford’s selfish pouting and unscrupulous gunning has earned him a spot in the Raptor’s starting lineup. Rumor has it he’s going to poop himself and throw a temper tantrum if he doesn’t start getting more shots than Chris Bosh. Hey, the squeaky wheel gets the oil, right?

11. Washington Wizards: When your postseason success rate depends entirely on a guy who’s been out the whole season and blogs about intentionally crashing his car? Maybe you’re not where you want to be yet.

Basketbawful Says: With the way the Wizards’ medical staff keeps delaying Agent Zero’s return, it’s almost like they don’t even want him back, you know? Does anybody else feel that way?

12. Cleveland Cavaliers: Here’s the thing. Yes, they are maddeningly inconsistent. Yes, there are parts of them that should be getting way fewer minutes (*cough*Ben Wallace! *cough*). And yes, they lack weaponry. But in an elimination game 6, on the road, against LeBron James, is there any way you want your team to step on that court?

Basketbawful Says: Maybe I’m just imagining things, but I think LeBron is actually starting to get worn down from dragging around 11 corpses all season. Hmm. Maybe he’s human after all…

13. Orlando Magic: No one really seems to recognize that when this team is at full gear, it’s a monster. I’m not kidding. With Howard down low, capable shooters, multiple options at point in case one’s not feeling it, and oh, yeah, again, Howard down low, I think this team is going to feed off the disrespect it’s getting. Straight into a second round sweep. Sigh. Baby steps.

Basketbawful Says: I’m really going to miss Dwight and the boys when their plucky season ends in a second round defeat. But we’ll always have that Superman dunk.

14. Detroit Pistons: Basketbawful says they have no identity. I’m actually more excited about this team than I have been in years. They have young talent, a very “last ride” feel for the veterans, and a chip on their shoulder about last year’s elimination and this year’s Celtics parade. Plus you’ve got that announcer guy for at least 6 games.

Basketbawful Says: It’s amazing how not impressed I am by the Pistons right now, despite the fact that they have the second-best record in the league. They just don’t have a real strong identity right now, but you can tell that Billups and the other veterans think they can just turn it on at will. That didn’t work very well the last couple years, though, did it?

15. Boston Celtics: Better than everyone.

Basketbawful Says: Nobody wants to have to play against the Celtics’ defense. Trust me on that.