Author Archives: Curtis Harris

The Doctor’s Check Up: Reviewing Julius Erving’s Documentary

The Doctor is a 90-minute excursion into the life and career of Julius Erving. The film doesn’t disappoint but it also doesn’t inspire. Its premise is well-setup and promising. Its execution, unlike Erving’s game, is flat-footed.

The documentary uneasily tries to find a narrative cohesion. At times, it is Erving who dominates the story being told, while at others it is Chuck D. The lack of an all-encompassing narrative voice disrupts the story. Are we hearing Erving’s story of himself? Or are we getting the story of Erving from others? The film tries to do both and it’s an uneasy, rough fit.

The confusing narration slowly weaves its way into an annoying irritation, but the documentary begins in spectacular fashion. The premise of legends, and how that term is defined, is remarkable. A gleeful Isiah Thomas regales a crowd with a story too good to be true, but too amazing to not inspire belief. However, that feel-good high is quickly lost as the narration issue derails the momentum.

Further along in the film, the recollection of Erving’s NBA career is done quite superficially. In 1977, his Sixers lost to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Finals. Erving is hailed for his sparkling individual performance but the team chided for not displaying the camaraderie of the Blazers. When the Sixers won the 1983 NBA title, Moses Malone receives quick credit for his contributions. That credit doesn’t include that he won the MVP Award that season. Andrew Toney, Maurice Cheeks, and Bobby Jones, all all-star players, received no mention. Meanwhile the “selfish” 1977 team had its principal characters all named and discussed: Doug Collins, George McGinnis, World B. Free, and Darryl Dawkins.

This incongruous assignment of blame and glory is to be expected when the film overall lacks a coherent point-of-view to recall these stories.

The Doc’s ABA career is better discussed. The glowing way interviewees recall seeing Erving in his largely unfilmed ABA days buttresses the premise that legends are lost when their every move is captured. They echo the joyful Thomas at the film’s intro by recalling tall tales that they swear are true. When the film chronicles NBA Julius, legends aren’t created. Instead facts are recalled and, as discussed above, they are recalled incompletely.

The film nonetheless achieves a qualified success. Poignant moments of Julius recalling the death of his younger brother and his son are moving. The rare footage of Erving at Rucker Park, in high school, and in the ABA are brief glimpses of reality in the fantasy world of Dr. J. As a viewer, I was left somewhat satiated, but not full.

I still hunger for a more stirring account of Erving’s life and career.

 

Image courtesy of byronv2 on Flickr

Undefeated: Roger Brown’s Legacy

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9V7iWIECNM]

 

Undefeated: the Roger Brown Story revolves around the fickle but mighty, resolute but transient, power of trust.

The NBA resolutely had none in Roger Brown and banned him from their league after learning of a vague and flimsy connection to a spots gambling ring. Brown, even after winning a lawsuit to lift the ban, never played for that league. That victorious lawsuit was but a small recompense for the way legal system had previously trashed and sullied Brown. With particular individuals, Roger Brown had difficulty locating the right people to trust. He had been burned time and time again after placing his faith in the hands of others.

However, the Brooklyn-born Brown eventually found trust in Dayton, Ohio, and in Indianapolis, Indiana. In both locations, strangers became family for Brown. A married couple in Dayton unable to conceive children of their own invited Brown into their home. This was after the University of Dayton cut all ties with Brown. Later, Brown found camaraderie with the ABA’s Pacers. Those bonds helped keep Roger Brown’s life together. When his life came to an early end due to cancer, members of these two circles kept up their iron bond with the legendary basketball player.

Undefeated: the Roger Brown Story is also a story of remarkable perseverance.

In the face of daunting obstacles, Brown resolved to continue his basketball career by any means. He worked at an Ohio factory during the week while also playing in minor pro leagues, pick-up games on weekends, and finally ascended to the ABA where he reminded the world why he was New York City’s best high school player in the early 1960s.

He carried the Indiana Pacers to three titles in the early 1970s even scoring a record 53 points in one Finals game. His soft and sweet jump shot was deadly to opponents. His desire to take the big shots down the stretch a relief to teammates.

The wonderful interviews with old Pacers like Mel Daniels, Freddie Lewis, and coach “Slick” Leonard are poignant. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stops by to recall how he, as a youngster in New York City, watched Roger Brown in total awe. Oscar Robertson recounts the pick-up games where Brown and he would battle to a standstill. Brown’s family and high school friends tear up remembering the remarkable injustice thrust upon the basketball legend. Just as important in Ted Green’s documentary on the Pacers legend is the rare archival footage of Roger Brown in action.

Seeing Brown’s graceful play on the court makes his grueling story that much harder to bear. Still, Green has done a masterful job in weaving together all the tragedy and the triumph that made Roger Brown indomitable on and off the court.  Green’s stirring documentary, alongside Brown’s long overdue Hall of Fame induction this fall, is helping Roger win his last battle: a secure and lasting place in the minds and memories of basketball fans everywhere.

The only shame is that few unheralded legends receive the kind of moving treatment Green has given Brown.

For more information, preview clips, and ways to support Roger Brown’s legacy and documentary, visit WFYI.com.

The Will and the Right of Jason Collins

In case you haven’t heard, Jason Collins revealed to the world that he’s gay. Out of all the quotes, quips, and thoughts inspired by his revelation, one in particular by Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson served as the genesis of my own extended thoughts:

“I will say this. We live in a country allows you to be whoever you want to be. As a Christian man, I serve a God that gives you free will to be who you want to be. As a Christian man, I have beliefs of what’s right and what’s wrong.”

When it comes to God’s will, I subscribe to Abraham Lincoln’s poetic Second Inaugural Address where he supposed that “the Almighty has His own purposes” and doesn’t set out to answer anyone’s prayers in particular. But I’ll assume for right now, that Jackson is right and God gives all of us free will to be who we want to be.

However, what is undeniable here is that we do not live in a country that allows everyone to be who they want to be.  Of course, this is a human problem, not an American problem. Just sticking to this country, though, a senator from Indiana once stood upon the floor of Congress and declared:

“It is not true in fact; it is not true in law; it is not true physically, mentally, or morally that all men are created equal… I hold it to be a self-evident lie.”

Such sentiment didn’t arise overnight to infect Senator John Pettit’s brain on February 20, 1854. Such sentiment hasn’t been wholly vaccinated 160 years later. Society is still littered with John Pettits, although mercifully there are fewer than there used to be. Still, it’s that kind of avarice that defended slavery, upheld segregation, trampled upon women, and currently belittles gays.

Mark Jackson himself alluded to such scurrilous treatment when asked how gay players would be received in the locker room:

“…there’s a reason why in these situation these players are at the end (of their career) or done. So obviously that answers itself. Right, wrong or indifferent, it is something that’s new to people.”

Being indifferent on an issue of human dignity may be possible, but it’s certainly not justifiable. Yes, hostility may have reduced homosexuality to the margins of male professional sports but it was indifference that kept it there.

Jason Collins declaring he’s gay dwindles the amount of real estate indifference can stand on. Ambivalent acceptance of gay athletes must give way to wholehearted embracing so that they can be who they want to be.

Yes, God may give us that will, but only as an embracing society can we ensure that everyone ultimately has that right.

The Hard Road back from Achilles

So, as I’m sure everyone’s heard, Kobe Bryant has torn his Achilles tendon.

The injury is one of the worst a person can experience. Its place in our collective memory cemented by the Greek hero of centuries ago. We still have to capitalize this large tendon in our lower leg in honor of the great Achilles.

But how will Kobe Bryant fare in his recovery from this injury?

Hell, if I know. The tear happened just last night and the MRI hasn’t been done, yet. What I do know are four historic examples of Achilles tears that may prove valuable for contextualizing Bryant’s recovery.

Chauncey Billups

Billups’ injury may be the closest reflection on what Bryant may endure based purely on age. The 35-year old Billups ripped his Achilles to pieces in the 2011-12 season with the Los Angeles Clippers. Billups has still not truly recovered from the injury. Appearing in just 20 games this year, the point guard just isn’t anywhere near his former self and is now struggling with various other ailments.

That presents the problem for recovery from any injury at an old age. One malady generally produces others as the body recovers slowly and overcompensates on other areas thereby degrading them. Even happens to young players like Ricky Rubio who suffered back spasms based on compensating too much recovering from his ACL injury.

Elton Brand

Brand’s case is a bit hard to disentangle from his shoulder injury in the 2008-09 season that followed his Achilles tear in August of 2007. Whether purely from the Achilles, or exacerbated by the shoulder, there’s no denying Brand isn’t the same player since 2007. Prior to the injury he was magnificent: 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 blocks a game. Afterwards he’s been solid, but not remarkable: 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks a game.

What’s disconcerting is that Brand did this at age 28 and never really bounced back to his old self. The Achilles injury is unkind no matter what the age of the player…

Bob Rule

Rule exemplifies that last point on age. He was a mere 26 years old when his Achilles tore in the fall of 1970. Before that injury, Rule was a rising star in the NBA. The center had just made his first all-star game the previous year and was averaging 29 points in the 1970-71 season’s first 4 games.

Prior to the injury, Rule played 3 full seasons averaging a robust 22 points and 10 rebounds. Returning from the injury, Rule scraped together about 9.5 points and 5 rebounds a game over the next 3 seasons before finally vanishing from the league. Rule’s case is disconcerting, but his injury did occur forty years ago and medicine certainly has become much better at helping tendons heal.

Dominique Wilkins

This is probably the best case scenario for Kobe. Dominique Wilkins tore his Achilles at the relatively old age of 32 back in January of 1992. The Human Highlight Film  returned in time for the start of the 1992-93 season and averaged a scintillating 30 points per game.

Of course, Kobe is 34 not the more youthful 32  years Nique was. Furthermore, Kobe’s played 54,000 minutes in his career between the regular season and playoffs. Wilkins had only mustered 30,000 minutes when he tore his Achilles tendon.

Clearly, the track record isn’t great for players returning from this injury. Given Kobe’s age and minutes played the climb back will be that much harder. However, medicine has never been better at speeding along recovery.

We will see Kobe Bean again, but in what form remains to be seen.

 

(for more on Achilles analysis, check out this piece from Kevin Pelton)

2013 All-Star Profiles: Kevin Garnett

teddy-rised (flickr)

teddy-rised (flickr)

Once there was a boy and girl
Boy said, “I love you so”
Girl said, “I’ll never leave you”
They grew older and left each other
‘Cause that’s the way love goes
That’s the way love goes

We know Kevin Garnett’s back story and history. He had a lengthy stay in Minnesota as a Timberwolf. 12 years in fact. Minnesota was a perennial playoff team that only once advanced beyond the first round. Following that one advancement the Wolves fell down into an abyss of suffering and losing that wore on the loyal KG.

But hey, that’s the way basketball goes.

Moving on to Boston Garnett found his way on a champion and, amazingly, 6 years later the Celtics are still chugging along as a respectable inexplicable basketball team. In 2007 it was believed the Big Three Era of KG, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen would sustain for 3 maybe 4 years. The rise of Rajon Rondo prolonged the Era but 6 years is more mileage than ever could have been dreamed.

Well, now Rondo is out for the year, but Boston keeps winning because KG keeps on playing like an all-star. Approaching 37 years on this earth, Garnett may not be what he once was back in Minnesota in terms of absolute all-around domination. However, he can still alter a game and even control it for significant stretches.

Years from now I doubt we truly appreciate how magnificent his 15 points and 7 rebounds a game have been this season.

It reminds me of the vocal group that provided the opening notes of this article. The Spinners were a great group, but toiled fruitless for mos the 1960s. Then, like Garnett, they had one awesome blossoming that seemed to pave the road for greater success. But just like Garnett, their 1970 single “It’s A Shame” didn’t pave the road for greater success.

It took a move from Motown Records to Atlantic Records and magically the Spinners went on a roll of massive hits from “I’ll Be Around” to “Then Came You” to “The Rubber Band Man”. Then came a devastating dry spell, like KG’s injury, but the Spinners rose from the grave and proved that even on their last legs they could put out a great tune.

“Working My Way Back to You” and “Cupid” in 1980 were their final spectacular salvos. Years from their heyday, though, the Spinners still aren’t quite appreciated.

Garnett’s 2013 season and his time as a transformed center are proving that his last legs are still more valuable than most in the NBA. Don’t be surprised if he puts on another all-star level campaign next season. Stranger things have happened… like grown men dancing with rubber bands on stage…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKbADFJOCkU]

2013 All-Star Profiles: Chris Paul

trindade.joao (flickr)

trindade.joao (flickr)

 

The Point God, Chris Paul, is returning to the All-Star Game for the 6th time in his career. Whether he actually plays in the game is an open, inconclusive question at this point. You see, for a Point God, Paul is regretfully mortal. His balky bruised knee has sidelined him for all but two games over the last couple of weeks. The Los Angeles Clippers, once neck-and-neck with Oklahoma City and San Antonio for first in the West, have capsized during his absence.

7 losses in 9 games is not a good look.

But just because Paul is a mere mortal and not a divine god doesn’t mean he isn’t a worthy hero and capable of genuine feats of grandeur. Greek mythology is not only littered with gods but also men who did the magnificent and the spectacular. Men like Odysseus and Jason braved treacherous waters, stormed mighty gates, or hid inside Trojan horses. Whatever the tactic these men gamely used their brains, brawn, and bravado to save the day.

Chris Paul won’t be garnering any golden fleeces, but his bag of tricks is just as valuable and covetous. For years he’s been the NBA’s best floor manager. Demonstrative orders are handed out on the floor for his minions to set picks, make cuts, get out the way, do whatever is necessary to create a cogent play. When a play still breaks down, he’s one of the best in the league at creating his own shot with wicked dribbling and a stepback jumper that is second-to-none.

The Clippers will easily make the postseason again, but Paul’s health is the key to their long-term success. Better he miss the all-star game in February than the postseason in May. Whether Paul stays in Los Angeles beyond this season is the real worry for the Clippers. Staying with the Clippers may seem like a golden goblet of mead right now, but these are the Clippers still owned by the nefarious Donald Sterling. Two years of determination to win can quickly revert to past habits of complacent mediocrity.

If Paul were to hitch himself long-term to the club, he may prove to be a tragic Greek figure. Poor Daedalus comes to mind in this regard. He was the genius designer who constructed the labyrinth in Crete, but was subsequently imprisoned inside his own creation by his one-time patron and benefactor, King Minos. The NBA’s best passer, its strongest defender at the point position may prove a similar fate.

However, this isn’t mythology. No Oracle can cast foreshadowing eye on what the future holds. We’ll have to see how Paul’s fate unfolds. For now we’ll celebrate his all-star play, wish him a healthy recovery, and hopefully enjoy another stellar postseason where Paul showcases why he’s the league’s premier guard.

A Primer for the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2013 Finalists

 

afled (Flickr)

afled (Flickr)

On Monday, the Basketball Hall of Fame announced its complete slate of finalists in this year’s round of Hall of Fame voting. The list of potential inductees is broken down into various fields including North American, International, Women, etc. All of these various lists include people from every conceivable field of basketball participation: owners, players, referees, coaches. They all come from every conceivable level as well: high school, college, minor league, barnstorm, professional.

The women and college participants and contributors certainly deserve their place. I ain’t the person to speak confidently on their individual merits, though. Hopefully, someone else on the big bloated blogosphere will fill in that gap. Therefore, I will merely give my thoughts, hopes, and predictions on how coaches and players from the male professional ranks of the North American nominees will fare in this upcoming vote.

North American Nominations (31)

From this list, a candidate needs seven of nine votes from the North American committee to become a finalist. Finalists will be announced in February at the NBA All-Star Game.

 

Maurice Cheeks

Cheeks played 15 seasons in the NBA as a premier point guard. The best of those years were spent with the Philadelphia 76ers. Over the course of his 11 seasons with that franchise, Cheeks averaged 12.2 PPG, 7.3 APG, 2.3 SPG, 52.8% FG and 79% FT. He’s currently 11th all-time in total assists. Routinely, he was also among the league leaders in steals per game during the 1980s. His career average of 2.10 is 10th all-time. This lofty steals per game total accurately gives the impression that Maurice was one of the finest defenders of his era. From 1983 to 1986 he made the All-Defensive 1st Team every season and was also selected to four all-star games (1983, 1986-88). On a Sixers team filled with brighter stars like Julius Erving, Moses Malone, and Charles Barkley, Cheeks is often the odd-man out when their greatness is recalled.

Wouldn’t surprise me if this continues to hold true with Hall of Fame voters.

Chances for Induction: 5/10

 

Bobby Dandridge

If you’re the least bit familiar with my writings and thoughts on basketball history, you know this is one of my favorite players. I’ve already written about his deserving Hall of Fame bid at-length.

Dandridge was the best two-way forward of the 1970s. He could blaze down the court with gazelle-like speed and grace to fill in either wing on a fast break. He had a gorgeous mid-range jump shot. He could lock down the opponent’s best scorer at the shooting guard or small forward spot. Teaming with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Oscar Robertson in 1971, he led the Bucks to their only NBA title. In 1978, he won another title with the Washington Bullets alongside Wes Unseld and Elvin Hayes. Unseld won that Finals MVP, but Dandridge was Washington’s best player all that postseason.

However, Dandridge remains supremely under-appreciated. He made only one All-NBA team and one All-Defensive team during his career. Out of eligible players, he also remains the only one to average 20+ PPG in multiple NBA championship series and yet not be in the Hall of Fame.

Chances of Induction: 2/10

Continue reading

Discussing a Win Shares Hall of Fame

Win Sharing is Caring – FromSandToGlass (Flickr)

HOW TO BUILD an NBA Hall of Fame? first, define what it is — and isn’t. From the 156 players now enshrined in Springfield, we cut 57 on demographics alone: female players, international-only stars and those who played before the 1946 birth of the BAA (all of whom, yes, are deserving of their own Hall). From there, we cut the 55 who didn’t clear our threshold of a 100 Hall of Fame Rating (see below) and added 36 more (19 active, 17 retired) who did. The total tally of inductees into The Mag’s NBA Hall? A nice round 80 — that is, until we enshrine Kevin Durant in two years.

–          Via Mr. Stern, tear down this Hall

As with any endeavor, this proposal for a new Hall of Fame has its merits and its detractions. On the positive side its formula, which you can find in the article, based on win shares does wind up including a few great players that will be (or already have been) overlooked for the Hall of Fame: Buck Williams, Detlef Schrempf, and Larry Nance for example.

However, the drawback is that this formula does privilege a single stat (win shares), which does disproportionately favors players with lengthy careers. Anyone paying attention to the NBA over the last couple of decades may notice that players’ careers are getting lengthier and lengthier. This allows for the greater accruing of win shares. Admittedly, the inclusion of “dominance factor” does ameliorate this somewhat, but overall the scheme favors modern players. I love Otis Thorpe, but he gets included in this Hall of Fame and Bob Cousy does not. Something is not quite right here.

“[Win shares] boasts the benefit of equalizing for the historically fluctuating pace of NBA play.”

The “not quite right” here is not merely that players today generally have a longer career to build the win shares. It is also that each season involves more games and, more importantly, win shares is a biased statistic. It may equalize fluctuating pace, but it does not give George Mikan or Dolph Schayes an extra 10 games every season to rack up win shares like Kobe Bryant or Hakeem Olajuwon enjoyed.

To highlight this particular issue, let’s look at Hal Greer.

The Syracuse Nationals and Philadelphia 76ers legend misses the new win shares-based HOF by 0.05 points. For inclusion a player had to achieve a score of 100 in the win shares formula. Greer had 99.95.

However, let’s consider that Greer’s career began in the 1958-59 season when the NBA only played 72 games a year. For the 1960-61 season, the NBA moved to 79 games, and the season after to 80. The move to 82 games didn’t finally happen until 1967-68. This means that over his career, Greer had 34 potential games removed. I think he would have made up the 0.05 win share difference in an extra 34 games and thus be considered an all-time great.

But Greer’s career merely  highlights the arbitrary cutoff of 100, which is a side issue of loving neat round numbers. The real issue is the win share formula’s modern bias.

“A second benefit? Unlike traditional stats, win shares do not help stat compilers who hang on past their primes.”

The problem though is that win shares only operates optimally after the 1977-78 season. Why is that? That’s because it was the first season where the “traditional” stat of turnovers was logged. Without turnovers, the win shares statistic becomes imperfect.

Try calculating how long it will take a rock to fall without knowing wind resistance. You’ll get a number that may be close, but it’s not going to be absolutely correct. And so it is for win shares without turnovers.

Furthermore, things get shakier the further back you look. Steals and blocks weren’t kept until 1973-74. Defensive and offensive rebounds weren’t tracked separately until that same season. Rebounds weren’t kept at all prior to 1950-51. Minutes played were logged for the first time in 1949-50.

As basketball-reference notes in its calculations, the task of getting win shares during these eras becomes difficult:

“Prior to the 1950-51 season, the NBA did not track total rebounds, so allocating defensive credit is an almost impossible task.”

Estimations are made, of course, but now we’re tracking the falling rock without wind resistance, gravitational pull, how high it was dropped from, etc. I’m sure we could still rig up some close estimate, but we’re just estimating, not arriving at whatever the real number should be.

So, yes, this proposed Hall of Fame generally gets it right with the chosen inductees. But it gets it so wrong with those left on the outside. Players like Bob Cousy, Nate Thurmond, David Thompson, Isiah Thomas, Willis Reed, Dave Cowens, and Mel Daniels are just some of the men left by the wayside in this new Hall of Fame. The story of basketball could not be told without these fantastic players.

There is no formula that relates exactly how monumental or anemic a player’s contribution was to the game of basketball. A man like Jim Pollard began play in the NBL, BAA and NBA before any of those leagues kept track of rebounds, minutes and blocks. We consider all of those stats “traditional” and a no-brainer to track, but once upon a time they were advanced. But even without those stats we know Pollard was a fantastic forward. He played on several title teams, made several All-Star teams, and made several All-NBA/NBL/BAA teams in his 8-year career. That’s a short career by today’s standards, but was typical of the time.

Context matters.

By trying to create a Hall of Fame and use a metric that smooths over differences in how basketball was played in different eras is misguided. How they played in the 1950s was how they played. And what stats they kept were the stats they kept. Attempts to apply advanced statistics back upon that era just won’t work perfectly. Those stats are our conception of what basketball should be, not the basketball Jim Pollard experienced. Judge him on the impact he made at the time and how that played a role in shaping basketball’s future.  Those nuances aren’t captured in numbers.

The Basketball Hall of Fame should be a discussion on how we all view the history and the direction of the game. As in any discussion, most sides have merit. The total stats need to be taken into account, but they aren’t everything. Pointing out how the stats were racked up is paramount. Discussing how a player clamped down on defense is important. The cultural influence certain players had on the game and society at-large matter.

No one measurement, statistic, talking point, or viewpoint trumps the others.

But that’s simply my opinion.

Discuss.

 

The Welfare Kings

epSpos.de (flickr)

After months of negotiations it appears the details have been worked out to build an arena in Virginia Beach, and bring a major league sports team with it.

But the deal is far from being done.

A plan to build a $350 million arena on the Virginia Beach oceanfront, with an NBA team as its anchor tenant, moved forward tonight.

– Via Va Beach/Kings/Arena Details worked out

Oh things are “moving forward”, alright. Yet another reach into the public pocket by private sports franchises. The Maloofs of Sacramento Kings infamy are continuing their quest to shore up their own finances at the expense of some public, somewhere.

The plan for  this stadium  boondoggle is staggering. Of the $300 million plan I’ve been able to find and scrutinize, here’s what’s been reported:

The city would contribute $195 million. The state will be asked for $150 million, of which $70 million would be for the arena, and Comcast-Spectacor, the Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment company that would lease and operate the arena and is working to recruit the pro sports team, would put in $35 million.

So, out of a $300 million stadium, the city of Virginia Beach will provide $195 million. The Commonwealth of Virginia will spend $70 million. That leaves just $35 million of private dollars to be spent by Comcast to finance construction. Also keep in mind Virginia is also being asked to spend $80 million to cover relocation expenses for the Maloofs and to make up for so-called “lost revenue” should the Kings relocate and be forced to play in “substandard” arenas.

Leaving aside the entitled notion of “lost revenue”, this is patently absurd. For those of you looking for more confirmation on the lunacy of stadium construction read Sports, Jobs and Taxes, which has case study after case study on failed arena promises.

And what exactly are the promises? Well let’s take a look at the two consulting projections I’ve been able to find so far.

The Koch study estimated an arena, starting in 2015, would host nearly 200 events a year with 1.3 million attendees. It would also create 1,230 jobs and generate $98 million in revenue in 2015, including $66 million in Virginia Beach.

And then there’s the study by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International whose name ought to be a sign they are going to swing for the fences in their estimates:

The study presented Tuesday, done by Texas-based Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, showed the annual revenue for southeastern Virginia generated by an arena would be $152 million, including $92 million in Virginia Beach. It would create 1,900 jobs and $8.9 million in city tax revenue.

Both studies worryingly use data from pro-stadium Comcast in their formulations, but yet we have a huge discrepancy in benefits. Koch says about 1200 jobs and $100 million in revenue. Conventions, Sports & Leisure International says 1900 jobs and $150 million in revenue.

I’d go with the conservative estimate here based on past stadium failures, but also upsetting is that it benefits Conventions, Sports & Leisure International to put out attractive numbers to sweet talk cities and states to finance stadiums. That firm was founded in the late 1980s in Minnesota, an era that began extreme stadium construction in the Twin Cities, and as we look at the list of associations and consultations made by Conventions, Sports & Leisure it becomes apparent they’re living on the gravy train of  stadium construction.

And it’s a gravy train of public money. In the end, it won’t matter where the Maloofs or the Kings end up, some foolish city trying to be “major league” will do their bidding:

Councilman John Uhrin said, “In terms of the sniff test, this market is ready for a sports team.”

What he ought to be smelling is a pile of horse manure emanating from the promises made by teams and consultants. Furthermore, these city officials in search of major league fools’ gold ought to remember the chilling words of Art Modell (quoted in Dan Kerr’s Derelict Paradise) as he took the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore after being “denied” a good enough guaranteed stream of revenue by Cleveland:

“It’s a second-hand citizenship that I don’t think we deserve.”

Baltimore guaranteed him $30 million a year of revenue while Cleveland “only” served up a guarantee of $19 million. The Maloofs and Kings will ultimately play the same trick. With only a finite amount of franchises to bid for, some city, somewhere will win this race to the bottom for their city and citizens.

Meanwhile, the Maloofs and Comcast will be sitting on top as Welfare Kings.

The Concussed Reasoning of Monty Williams

Yesterday Monty Williams, current coach of the New Orleans Hornets and former NBA player, went on a senseless tirade of how flawed the NBA’s concussion policy is. I’ve not been able to find a full transcript of his words and the questions asked, but just what’s readily available on the web is enough to make any person knowledgeable on the impact of concussions either a) roll their eyes or b) facepalm. Either of these options ought to be partaken with an appropriate modicum of disgust.

So, let’s begin a step-by-step appraisal of why Williams’ comments were so ridiculous and so wrong.

“When you’re dealing with the brain, I guess what’s happening in football has impacted everybody,” Williams said before the game.

Yes, I’d say that observing hits on the head and the subsequent serious brain injuries has impacted football and is impacting all sports. As it turns out, the brain just happens to be the center of control for all bodily functions. If your brain doesn’t work well, surprisingly, your body as whole won’t work well.  When former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon is battling dementia at age 53 because of all the hits his brain took, people (Monty Williams) ought to take notice.

“He got touched up a little bit last night. That happens a lot in basketball.”

Touched up? No, he got elbowed upside the head by Austin Rivers who was running at a good speed when it happened and Davis was standing perfectly still. Monty doesn’t seem to be much of a neurologist, or a physicist as it turns out. You see, when one object is standing still and another is moving at decent clip and they collide, the force of the moving object (Austin Rivers’ elbow) will be transferred over to the stationary one (Anthony Davis’ head). This is why Rivers slows down and Davis begins to reel in pain into the out-of-bounds area. Davis’ skull had just absorbed much of the energy Rivers was carrying with him while running and that energy, surprisingly, is able to go through the skull and whip the brain.

Oh but, Monty is about to get even more asinine…

“It’s just that now they treat everybody like they have white gloves and pink drawers and it’s getting old. It’s just the way the league is now.”

“It’s a man’s game,” Williams said. “They’re treating these guys like they’re 5 years old.”

He just can’t be ridiculous for ridiculousness’ sake. Now Williams is beginning to descend into the depths of macho bravado.  The NBA is a “man’s game” which means there’s no room for “white gloves and pink drawers.” My only take away from this is that if you don’t eschew the medical care (white gloves) needed for an injury akin to the one Davis suffered you are being unmanly in the NBA.

What makes this rationale even more spectacularly stupid is the invocation of pink drawers. This is further attempting to emasculate the notion of seeking medical care for your head injuries. Back in March, a sheriff in Arizona was reprimanded by a court for forcing his male inmates to wear pink drawers. Personally, I have no problem with anyone wearing pink. In fact, I encourage it. But it’s foolishness to deny that the color pink is popularly associated with femininity (pink is for girls) and that a man wearing the color is at risk of losing his masculinity (blue is for boys).

the NFL brings women out either in scant clothing for cheering or in pink outfits for Breast Cancer Awareness (NFL)

“I’m not saying I don’t like (the policy),”

Oh, I think you are.

“We’ve got to protect the players, but I think the players should have more say so in how they feel. I’m sure I had four or five concussions when I played, and it didn’t bother me.”

I’ve had a concussion from playing basketball and I was functioning in a hazy daze for nearly a week. I wouldn’t want anyone asking me to make any decision outside of what drawers I wanted to wear. And I’m sure Monty’s “four or five” concussions have made an impact on his decision-making judging from all these thrilling quotes we’ve seen so far.

“The NBA is doing what’s necessary to protect the players, but this is not the NFL. You don’t get hit in the head that much. I understand it. But as a coach, I’m a baby about it. I want my guys ready to play. That’s basically the bottom line; I’m just a baby.”

I hope Williams is aware it’s not necessarily the frequency of head hits but just getting hit in the head at all that is the concern. Obviously more hits are usually worse, but a single blow to the head may be all it takes to cause severe damage.

But Williams, finally, finally, reveals the real source of this stupidity: he just wants his best player on the court. Like a baby, Williams is not making any rational decision or reasoning regarding the concussed Davis because he wants the instant gratification of a win in November. Taking a long-term look at the situation, it’s quite obvious that holding Davis out until he passes all concussion tests is not only the best move for his own personal health but also his career.

I just hope right now that the New Orleans Hornets and the NBA are explaining to Williams the necessity of this policy. Given Williams’ comments and LeBron’s from last season (too tough for a concussion, but not too tough to sit on the ground holding his head for several minutes), the NBA has a long way to go in getting the message across to players and coaches on this issue. I suggest they sit all players down and tell them about Maurice Stokes, who did suffer a head injury, never had it properly treated and ended up paralyzed.

Davis’s injury doesn’t appear to be on that level, but you can’t say for certain. Stokes never had a proper exam to determine that point and paid the price. So instead of harping on the policy’s injustice, Williams ought to be praising the NBA for taking into consideration the health and safety of its players.