by Lang Whitaker

First of all, if you haven’t checked out the latest column from SLAMonline’s Etan Thomas, you really should. Etan wrote a piece calling for the firing of Don Imus, and he did a great job on the column.

I originally got in touch with Etan through SLAM columnist Dave Zirin. (And if you don’t read Dave, you should. His website is here.) Dave knew Etan had thoughts that ran deeper than the average NBA player, and that Etan was looking for someplace to help him express those thoughts. So Etan and I hooked up and cut a deal: Whenever he had something he felt he needed to write about, we’d run it. That was that.

The funniest thing about all this is that Etan and I mostly correspond through email. He sends me his columns, I edit them and post them. And when he’s got a column idea brewing he usually sends me a text message to run it by me. The thing is, Etan always sends text messages to my home phone number instead of my cell phone. So late Sunday night, the phone rang and Etan’s name and number came up on the caller ID. Wifey handed me the phone because she didn’t recognize the name. Well, I recognized the name, because it said “ETAN THOMAS.” I answered and a computerized voice read the text message to me.

Etan might not have the complexities of text messaging down, but I think he’s a heckuva writer, NBA player or not. And I’m glad he’s on the SLAM team.

More on texting later…

• Went by the Garden last night for the Pistons/Knicks game, but not to actually go to the game — just wanted to swing through and see a few folk before tip-off. In the Pistons locker room, I don’t know who was acting as DJ but they had an ill iPod playlist going; when I walked in Pete Rock and CL Smooth was on blast. Sheed was walking around in a wifebeater and jeans. He gave me a pound, but before I could ask him about Need4Sheed he hustled away.

Then I popped into the Knicks locker room and got into a serious conversation with Kelvin Cato about the Braves starting pitching rotation and new bullpen setup. I knew Cato was from Atlanta but had never really talked to him before. He’s a big Braves and baseball fan — he even went to opening day at Yankee Stadium.

And did you know Cato never played a minute of high school basketball? (He admitted that he was kind of a “knucklehead” back then.) Cato played summer league his junior and senior year, which is where he was spotted by Iowa State. As Cato noted, 6-10 guys who can hit 15-footers are always in demand.

This all devolved into a long argument with Knicks PR dude Vince Jackson about the Braves and Mets, about whether it’s better to win 14 consecutive division championships and one World Series or to win one division championship and one World Series. Didn’t seem like much of an argument to me and Cato.

• The folks at Starbury finally send me a box of gear the other day, so yesterday I rolled out a new pair of Cyclone IIs. (I didn’t realize I was also wearing a LeBron James track jacket yesterday. One of the Knicks ballboys asked me if it was my “Why Can’t We All Just Get Along” outfit. Yes, I told him, it was.)

I’ve been curious about these shoes for a while, so it was very cool to be able to actually put them on and wear them around all day. And when I left the Garden it was actually pretty nice out, so I ended up just walking home about 50 blocks in my Starburys. Figured I might as well put them to the test.

And the verdict? I liked them a lot. They were lightweight, comfortable, and a day later I don’t have a sore foot or anything like that. So I’m officially down with the cause. Thanks, Steve and Barry’s.

• Here’s a random idea: Should we get our people at undrcrwn to make SLAM editorial staff starting five t-shirts? I’m not sure how well a shirt would sell that reads…

ben
khalid
lang
sam
susan

My parents would probably buy one. Probably.

• Hey, Kevin Durant is going pro. Anyone surprised?

• Glad to hear that Bonzi Wells is back in the news, although it’s weird that it went down in this fashion. Bonzi decided he was being a distraction to the Rockets, so he sent a text message to the trainer and didn’t show for the game. This is similar to how Ron Artest text-messaged his teammates recently to tell them that he was going to retire. Text messaging is the new press conference.

I wonder if these guys type in shortcuts?

IM BENG DISTRACTION…NT COMNG TO GME 2NIGHT…L8R…TTYS?

Do they have full keyboards? Are they really sending emails from their phones and the reporters just don’t know the difference? This might have to be the next Tech Corner column in SLAM.

• And it’s certainly not funny that James Posey was arrested for a DUI, but it is kind of strange that he was in the drunk tank along with Florida Panthers goalie Eddie Belfour. The NBA side will probably get a lot more attention, even though Belfour did a Dale Davis and got tagged with a taser, but that’s what happens when nobody cares about hockey.