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Wednesday, September 6th, 2006 at 3:19 pm  |  49 responses

Uptown preps and angry Americans

Covering hoops from Harlem to Japan without ever leaving town. Kinda like ESPN…

by Ryan Jones

Caught in a holiday weekend time warp the past few days, I’m just getting around to updating you good people on Friday’s Elite 24 high school showcase at Rucker Park and posting my thoughts on the World Championships. I’d appreciate it if you’d just accept that and move on.

Oh, hey, did I mention I need a new Sidekick 3? T-Mobile? Anyone?

First, back to Friday night, when some of the nation’s best prep ballers stepped onto the legendary Rucker blacktop for the Elite 24. Props to my peoples Chris Rivers (the grassroots kingpin) and former SLAM ad slinger Kris Stone for making it happen. I could hate on them on some truth-in-advertising — billed as a game featuring the best 24 high school players in the country, it would’ve been more accurate to say it was 24 OF the best — but I won’t, because they pulled it off, doing a great job of bringing some really, really dope players together regardless of sneaker affiliation. And anybody who knows anything about the high school hoop scene knows that’s damn near impossible.

Anywhere, while dodging sporadic sprinkles and our man Bobbito’s incessant sideline commentary, I took a couple notes. Considering how many of these guys will be millionaires in a few years, it’s in your interest as basketball fans to pay some attention:

-Texas big man DeAndre Jordan is a beast. Dude is a black hole for runners, floaters, short jumpers and layup attempts. He makes Ben Wallace look lazy and meek. Well, not really, but you get my point.

-AZ combo guard Jerryd Bayless is NASTY. As in, really, really good. Kid has all-around backcourt skills.

-Kyle Singler is fresh, enough so that some people think Kevin Love is only the second-best white boy in Oregon this year. We will stand by our man, but we are not mad at Kyle.

-Tyreke Evans… we were pretty critical of dude all night, because he’s pretty easily the most hype player in the 2008 class, and he didn’t show much of anything, just a couple crossovers that looked good but didn’t go anywhere. Then, after the fact, we found out that Tyreke’s father apparently died Friday night, actually while Tyreke was playing. It’s not clear whether ‘Reke knew about it at the time, or if his dad was sick or if it was something sudden — regardless, we’re certainly giving this very talented kid a pass, and wishing the best for him and his family. And for what it’s worth, based on a resume he’s built up over the past few years, we’re still expecting big things from him.

-Yes, we’re biased, but probably the night’s highlight from Bobbito’s running sideline commentary came in the first half, when Bayless converted and was fouled, then had a friendly bout of trash talking with our man KLove at the foul line. Bob couldn’t hear what they were saying, but he made up the convo anyway: “Yeah, my man Bayless. He’s like, ‘You got a journal in SLAM magazine, I don’t care.” Good to see Bob is paying attention.

-Mike Beasley is no joke. At all. As Ben Osborne reminds me during the game, dude is essentially ambidextrous, and SO smooth with that left hand. Ben and I spent a decent amount of time trying to figure out an accurate comparison, and I got a text message from Ben later in the weekend that read: “Beasley = way better Rodney Rogers.” It may sound like faint press, but it’s kinda on-point, and if you really think about it, a “way better Rodney Rogers” is a pretty good NBA player, and probably a superstar in college. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

-Due to his handle, L.A.’s Brandon Jennings is Bob’s favorite player. As DJ Cucumber Slice points out at one point, “You don’t have to shoot ever again. You’re not from California. You must have spent some time in Harlem.” We were sitting up in the stands with Brandon’s mom, and she was enjoying it. Rightfully so. Her Oak Hill-bound son is dope.

-Rucker Park regular Lance Stephenson Jr (remember him from SLAM 100) and Dexter Strickland were beefing kinda hard for a few possessions, and it was good for the crowd. Considering the crap weather — borderline cold and threatening rain all night — it gave us something to get excited about. It also reminded us of Lance and OJ Mayo going one on one at ABCD Camp last year, and just in general what a short fuse Lance has when he plays. Dude plays with SO much emotion, and as talented as he is (and a nice kid, too) we’re hoping he keeps it in check.

-Cole Aldrich is ridiculous. The 7-foot white kid from Minnesota is an understandable novelty at the Rucker, but he ends up with like 30 monster dunks. You watch a kid like this, then think back on, say, Will Purdue’s NBA career, and you figure Cole might be in the League for a LONG time.

-Steve Nash walked in midway through the game. As Bob says. “He looks like he just came in from fishing.” Actually, he looks like a well paid hipster with a Nike endorsement deal. Which he essentially is. Among the other NBA sightings: Smush Parker, Kenyon Martin, Travis Best (in Celtics shorts and a cashmere hoodie, randomly enough), along with honorary game “coaches” Jason Kidd (with the whole fam in tow) and Ben Gordon.

-Sometime in the second half, we noticed that JJ Hickson of Georgia had about 40 points. And Bjennings has
about 13 dimes.

-The game gets SERIOUS at the end, staying close and with both teams really wanting to win, which always makes all-star-style runs like these better to watch. In the closing minutes, Lance Stephenson catches Kevin Love with an elbow that may or may not be inadvertant. Kevin is pissed, and the butterfly bandage on his lip after the game tells us why.

Not that it really matters, but the “blue” team won the game 141-139. Mike Beasley was beastly with an official 26 and 9, and he split team MVP honors with Bayless, who dropped a memorable 15. For the “white” team, Hickson went for 34 (our previous exaggeration wasn’t off by much) and split the MVP with Jennings, who scored a dozen to go with his 15 dimes. Overall, a really good game that finished about 30 seconds before the rain began in earnest and, despite missing big names like OJ, Bill Walker, Derrick Rose and Eric Gordon, did feature some incredible talent and soon-to-be household names. Glad I made it up there.

HEY, LOOK, BREAKING NEWS THAT SOMEBODY FROM ESPN DIDN’T REPORT: Its’ about 4:15 Wednesday and I just got off the phone with Mike Beasley, who told me he’s going to Notre Dame Prep starting… tomorrow. This may be news to the folks at Oak Hill Academy, who thought he was coming there. It may also be news to the rest of the world, because I haven’t read it anywhere else yet. I’d tell you to call me Scoop, but I think somebody’s already got that name.

MOVING on… from Harlem World to the actual world, here’s my thoughts on the World Championship tournament that the US team did not win. One, yeah, I was bummed when I woke up Saturday morning and checked the score of that Greece game. Not because of any sense of patriotism, but becasue I know and like a lot of the dudes on the US squad. Two, yeah, I was proud that they played hard and well to win the bronze. Three, they were undeniably a better and more together team than their predecessor from 2004, which I credit both to the absence of Larry Brown and a general sense of lessons learned. All that said…

Call it excuse making if you want, but I still don’t think enough is said about the differences between the NBA and international games. My comparison, which I’ve been annoyingly spouting around here for a couple days now, is this: Imagine if, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers were told they had a couple weeks to prepare before playing the Arizona Rattlers in an Arena Football League game. They’d be on one of those hockey-rink size fields, with AFL refs, returning kickoffs off the nets and everything. Who do you think would win? Logic saying the Steelers are substantially better football players, and generally bigger, stronger and faster than their AFL counterparts. But given the nuances of the game, I think I’d take the Rattlers. Of course, if you gave the Steelers enough time to prepare, they’d straight dominate, because the nuances would be negated by the fact that the Steelers have some of the best players in the world and the AFL guys are generally good football players who weren’t quite good enough to make the NFL.

Honestly, aside from the fact that NBA MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki couldn’t get his German team anywhere near a medal, the final game of the Worlds made this point better than anything I could say: Greece — after beating the star-studded US squad — gets blown out by a Spanish team lacking its best player (Pau Gasol, a legitimate NBA star). Do we take that to mean that a Gasol-less Spain would then beat the US by 50? Well, maybe in Japan, but in the NBA, if a team featuring Navarro, Calderon and Gasol’s Little Brother played a team featuring Wade, James, Anthony, etc in a best-of-7 series, they’d lose four straight, and by an average of 30 a night. I know this to be true, and so do you.

The point? Only that the int’l game remains a separate animal, and that the relative lack of outrage here makes it clear how little we really care about our standing in competitions like this one. USA Basketball as an entity says it cares, and is making moves to prove it; assuming they continue to build an actual program and we run things in ’08, they’ll look smart. And if we fall to Greece or some similar minnow in two years, most of us still won’t care all that much. I could go off on an arrogant-sounding rant about how we essentially invented (and undeniably perfected) the game, and how ludicris it is that we’ve got to play the rest of the world by their rules, but I won’t. I’ll just say that anybody who knows hoops and doesn’t understand that the game is played at its highest level on 29 gyms in North America doesn’t actually know hoops at all.

But enough of all that. Basketball is dead to me for the next six weeks or so, starting with an emphatic double-header this weekend. Everton (my “football” team) plays the most popular pink-clad, Spanish-speaking team in all of Sweden (aka Liverpool FC, aka “the shite”) Saturday morning. If you don’t follow European football, it’s called a “derby” and pronounced “darby” and means “a bigger rivalry than you can imagine,” and I’m sweating it already.

A couple hours later, Penn State (my other football team, also my alma mater) plays Notre Dame in South Bend. My Nittany Lions have won 15 of their last 16, while the Irish and their girlie-haired offense are mysteriously ranked in the top 5. I really need to go 2-for-2 on Saturday. Also, I need a new Sidekick. Make 3-for-3.

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  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Ryan I completely agree with you about how the US and international ball are two completely different games, and your football analogy makes perfect sense to me.

    Here is my analogy. Say you’ve been wrasslin’ with crocodiles your whole life so that you are the best crocodile wrassler in the world. Then one day you decide to go swimming with a sting ray. Odds are you’d catch a vicious barb through the heart and die a martyr.

    That’s right. I took it there.

  • Ben

    So glad you gave my Rodney Rogers call some shine. Yes, perhaps that is a diss to Mike’s NBA potential since RR got a little pudgy and became way too content to launch threes, but in college Rogers was incredible, so if Mike has the same college career as Rogers, there is no shame there at all.
    Also love the points about the international game versus the NBA–totally different!
    And screw your two football teams; my three are much cooler: go Arsenal, go Northwestern and go Giants!

  • http://www.slamonline.com Marcel Mutoni

    that’s just awful Sam; I love it!

  • http://www.winstonandthetelescreen.com winston and the telescreen

    damn sam
    thats cold

  • tom

    love the bit bout football (soccer, i from da uk)
    lovin the aka for liverpool made me laugh
    keep representin the SAINTS (southampton)
    l8erz

  • Allen

    My question to Ryan is: Do you think that if an NBA team incorporated the “international” style of play during a regular season NBA game versus another NBA team, would that style be more effective or less effective than the results they would normally get? Or would there be no difference?

  • Aaron

    I’m sorry but this international ball versus NBA ball is just an excuse. All of the players on the US squad have seen a zone defense in either college or highschool ball. Teams within the states that utilize a more European brand of basketball where you distribute and utilize shooters have been very successful in recent years, i.e. Phoenix, Dallas, Sactown. I honestly hope more teams begin to utilize this style of play. You can see the trend spreading and it will make for a more fundamental, better brand of basketball. In the end, we just got beat and we need to drop the arrogance and accept it…

  • Tony

    Why the hell should the US have to incorporate international rules into the NBA? We invented the god-damn game. As far as I’m concerned any type of basketball that doesn’t follow the US style is a fraud, because the game was invented in the US. Plus international players are usually role players, you only have a handful of stars like Dirk, Hakeem, etc who ever really dominate the game. Word to Europe- stick to soccer you queers!

  • Ryan Jones

    Great question Allen, and it relates well to Aaron’s semi-legitimate beef. Fact is, it comes down to much more than just international style of play. It comes down to rules differences that seem minor but are pretty major when they all add up: officials calling these pretty much the opposite of the way they do in the NBA (much more contact allowed on the perimeter and much less banging allowed inside), the closer three-point line, different lane shape, less leeway with travels and carries, etc. If an NBA team played like Greece or Argentina or Spain, only with proven NBA talent, I’m sure they’d do well. That said, some of the advantages of the international “style” have to do with the specifici differences — the closer arc and the way refs call the game especially. That’s why I go back to my main point — it’s a different game, period. It’s still basketball, but it’s a DIFFERENT basketball, and that’s the biggest reason the US hasn’t won much lately.
    And to Aaron’s point — just tell me this, man: Do you honestly believe that a Greek team that couldn’t beat Spain without Pau Gasol could really beat this US team with NBA refs on an NBA court? Honestly? Because that to me is the whole point here. I’m not denying that there’s been arrogance on the part of American players and officials, nor that the fundamentals shown in the international game are something we could learn from. But flat out, are you saying the Greeks could pull off the same result in an NBA gym with NBA rules? Because I’m saying they couldn’t. I’m saying they’d get run off the court, every single time.
    Oh, and Sam, you said Steve Irwin died a martyr. Does that mean he was a terrorist, and that the terrorists have won? Because I think the stingray won, and I’m sticking with that, too.

  • Ryan Jones

    Soccer isn’t gay, Tony. Don’t alienate yourself on the SLAM boards — we got mad soccer fans up here.

    As it turns out, though, I may in fact be a lesbian, because I just turned to the WNBA finals game and haven’t changed the channel yet. Don’t tell nobody…

  • Dblizzy!

    Sam thats one of the most effed up things I’ve heard…. and I’m still laffing my ass off. RIP STEVE IRWIN. Wrassler lol, thats funny in and of itself…

  • Ryan Jones

    Oh, and Ben, I’ll let you have your Wildcats out of pity, and I won’t front on the Giants, because their current LB corps is pretty much the ’99 Penn State LB corps. But Arsenal? Sorry man, but I like to support a team that plays attractive, attacking soccer, not the kind of defensive-minded squad that can’t even score against Man City.

  • Tim Dogg

    Calling someone a queer is just ignorant. I seriously doubt there are many homosexuals reading the slam message boards.

  • Boing Dynasty

    Hey Tom stop writing your comments from 1999, and Allen if you want to see if the Euro game would work in the NBA, watch a Raptors a game this year, They got calderon, garbrosa, bargnini, rasho, that ukic dude stashed somewhere, and i think anthony(parker the lesser) counts as euro now too?
    should be fun,………….or a disaster

  • Boing Dynasty

    While the actual sport of soccer might not be gay(MIGHT, im not sure 1 way or another.)But you gonna have to explain homey who bit that dudes johnson after he scored. you know you seen that replay more than once. i never saw Pip give Mike that kind of treatment, but i seen mad soccer playin muthafuckas partaking in some questionable behavior after they score a goal.

  • Pascal Giberné

    Once again Ryan, you still continue to write a lot of nonsense regarding NBA basketball. You did it in 2004 and you strike again! How can you say that the best basketball is still played in the NBA? It’s an insult to your intelligence Ryan! Yes, you guys have the most talented players by far, but when it come to chemistry and understanding the game I don’t think the best basketball is played in the NBA anymore!! In the past 12 month, Toronto got beaten by Maccabi Tel Aviv while playing under the NBA rules and Team USA got a pick and roll clinic against Greece. I’m sorry but in 1992, the FIBA rules and the NBA rules were far apart than there are right now, but it didn’t bother Jordan and co! ‘Cause those guys knew how to play ball and use their brains on a basketball court. True, the rest of the world has catch up and play a lot better but the thing is the US don’t know how to play team basketball anymore!! Yes the rules are different but basketball is basketball! Guys like Calderon, Arroyo and Pau, can switch with ease from FIBA basketball to NBA basketball, it doesn’t bother them. I will even say this, after playing in the NBA, they are even more effective in FIBA basketball. Team USA got all the tools to dominate they just need to use their brains until then nobody can say the best basketball in the world is still played in the NBA.

    There is one solution to end this argument though, unify those freaking rules!!! Then we would see who is better

  • bja

    Wow. I love all this excuse making from the Americans. Now you want to change the rules to suit your own players? 1992 seems so long ago.

    And Ryan, you’re showing your ignorance calling Greece minnows. They’re the European champions.

  • malc

    european basketball rocks. much harder than the nba does. fair point about international rules etc, but still. the spain- argentina game was better than nearly all of the nba finals games this year.

  • Martin Catterick

    Hey an Everton fan, notmany of those i imagine in the US. Especially with the rivals being Liverpool. It should be a great game on Sat, watch out for Andy Johnson he’s a fantastic player.

    My uncle used to be the Everton manager back in the 60′s (Harry Catterick) he won the FA cup in 66 and the league title. Hopefully the team are moving towards those winning ways again.

  • matt the jazz fan

    you know that a canadian invented basketball, right?
    plus if the “international way of calling the game” includes
    a) calling a travel a travel and
    b) not accepting that stars get star treatment,
    then i’m all for it in the nba.

    don’t ge tme wrong:
    - i’m not saying that the other differences don’t exist.
    - but i *am* saying that the two above differences would make the nba better.

    & bringing the international game closer to the nba would be a positive side effect thereof…

    just my two cents.

    ps go charlton !

  • Harlem World

    Nothing like an ass whuppin to get your true feelins out, huh?

    Ryan, take your 6 weeks off, come back and re-read what you wrote. Don’t you think you’re being just a lil big ig’nant? Maybe it’s burnout, maybe you were having a bad day? Whatever it is, that isht was MAD ignorant.

    First of all, the tournament was called the WORLD championships – because it had teams from across the globe (which, contrary to popular belief stretches further than North America). If America doesn’t like the rules of the WORLD championships – then don’t participate?!

    It reflects the attitude too many of us have when it comes to the rest of the world. We like being number 1 in everything, which is good – but if someone else come up and knock us off that spot, we got excuses. Kill that. Get back in the gym and fix the problems. You want to be number 1, just because, or because you got knocked down – but then got back up to come back even better? I know which one I’d take. Ain’t no shortcuts to success, and there shouldn’t be.

    I’m based over in europe right now, and looking at how we view the rest of the world before we know too much about over in the states is a sobering thing. We gotta get over ourselves man.

    Looking at the Greece game, the main reasons we were getting killed was an inability to defend the pick and roll and also rotate out on shooters or cuts into the lane. Thats fundamentals homie. If we can take our superior athletes and strengthen their fundamentals and willingness to play defense all out (like MJ in ’92 olympics) – then we’ll blow out every other team on the planet. But until we stop making excuses and put the responsibility on the team to step their individual and collective games up – we’re going to get beat again.

    Whats wrong with telling D-Wade, LBJ, Chris Paul and Melo that they have to get better? Strengthen your fundamental LBJ, and you could become the best player to ever play this game not named Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Same message to D-Wade…You’re an incredible talent, but work harder on the defensive end and LEAD a team not only with how you play, but vocally too. Get on guys to rotate out and give extra effort on the defensive end.

    Guys getting burnt on pick and roll is not good enough. We see enough of it in the NBA (albeit without the big guys who can pick and pop for the long jumper as fluidly as overseas).

    What i’m sayin is, lets not make excuses – lets get our best back in the ‘lab’ and improve.

    Oh, and before I go…I sensed a lil disrespectful vibe towards my man Bobbito ‘The Barber’ Garcia. I hope I’m wrong, because that would be the worst thing you could do. Bob is a legend. You really shouldn’t say anything but ‘thank you’ to him right about now. You know what i’m sayin.

    Enjoy your time off, get back in the ‘lab’ yourself and I look forward to seeing your new and improved game in 6 weeks time.

    Peace

    Oh, and Everton??! Whats THAT about? If it ain’t red in the UK, it’s dead – ya heard! Arsenal (if you’re smart), Man U (if you don’t know any better) or Liverpool (for the ol’skool heads) are the only teams you need to concern yourself with. Don’t come at me with no Chelsea isht either. They just got here.

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Hey Harlem World, what’s the deal with chicken noodle soup? Is it the end of society as we knew it?

  • Yassi

    The only difference between NBA ball and international ball is ego-ball vs. teamball.

  • Ryan Jones

    Punks jump up to get beat down…

    PASCAL, mi amigo, how come you never respond when I email you directly but you’re killing me on my own damn blog within 6 hours of posting?! This is why you cannot trust the French! (Nice win over Italy last night, although it came a couple months late…)

    I feel you homie, but you know and I know and Freddie Weis wearing Shox sure as hell knows that most of the international cats can’t hang with the best American players. If they could, how come the NBA All-Star Game isn’t overrrun with Greeks, Spaniards and Argentines? No one is answering this question for me — if these guys are all so good, why have they not COMPLETELY TAKEN OVER THE NBA? I’m not saying they don’t have us on fundamentals (mostly, they do), but then, so does the WNBA…

    (Shout-out to my girl Katie Smith, by the way. I actually watched most of the rest of that Monarchs-Shock game last night, and she was KILLING.)

    BJA, The Greeks are minnows, just like their Euro 2004 soccer team was minnows. Anyway, pay attention dude — my whole point is that the rest of the world changed the rules and the Americans who perfected the sport are asked to play by those different rules every two years. Get your facts right.

    MARTIN, you’re right, I’m a rare American Toffee, but proud of it (just ask my co-workers how often I wear by royal blue shirt(s) around the office.) I’m definitely familiar with your uncle’s name (if ya know your history…) and I’m feeling good about the direction of the club right now. Three points this weekend would make me feel even better.

    MATT, basketball was invented and first played in Springfield, Mass, which is in the US. I don’t care where Doc was born, you and I know it’s an American game. I absolutely agree with you on the international game being a little more pure in certain ways, and I’d love it if every top NBA player wasn’t allowed to take eight steps on the way to the rack. But they get the star treatment because they’re stars, and they can only play by the rules and expectations the League gives them.

    HARLEM WORLD, I appreciate your wordiness. First, let it be known, as my fromage-eating friend Pascal pointed out, I “insulted my own intelligence” on this topic two years ago (you know, after the previous ass-whupping) and have been maintaining the same thing ever since. So I don’t need 6 weeks to marinate on it, because I’ve been thinking about it for a lot longer, and I know I’m right. (And the world is a better place when I know I’m right…)

    Where you and I TOTALLY agree is that the failures of the last two international tournaments should absolutely be motivation for American players to get back to the lab. As we should all know, these problems have their roots in the grassroots scene, the one-and-done college game, and primarily the NBA’s superstar system. I’ver NEVER argued that all these things are great for basketball in its purest form. But what I will maintain and can’t see anybody changing my mind about is the fact — and this isn’t an excuse, it’s an explanation; there’s a difference — that the international game and the NBA game are very, very different, and that since the top US players essentially only play that style and by those rules a month or so every other summer, they are at a serious disadvantage that all the talent in the world can’t always overcome. Mostly, I don’t understand why more people don’t/won’t/can’t acknowledge that, which to me is easily the most ignorant part of the discussion.

    And just to play devil’s advocate, does it really make all that much sense for the NBA guys to alter their games for these summer excursions when it’s the NBA talent and style that make them a) rich and b) famous? It’s kinda like the Brazilians in Olympic soccer — they know it’s not really that important as long as they’re winning World Cups, which is why they kinda don’t bother.

    As for Bobbito, what disrespect? I mentioned his incessant sideline commentary becuase dude talks non-stop, as you must know if he’s a personal hero of yours. That’s not a dis, that’s a statement of fact. But Bob goes back with SLAM a long ways — hell, I used to run into him around my neighborhood on the regular before he moved out — and have no beef with dude. Lang, on the other hand… well, you should ask him.

    Anyway, man, your last paragraph just killed your whole shit for me. What, I’m just supposed to pick one of the big money teams that wear red jerseys? And Liverpool is “old school,” even though they only came into existence as a club because Everton (128 years of history and counting) moved across the park and the guy who owned the land they’d been on needed something to do with it, so he started this club that ABBA-loving Swedes could embrace and the Spaniards could adopt as their national team? C’mon, man. I’m an Everton supporter, and since I’ll never work for the English equivalent of SLAM (FourFourTwo, I guess), I’ll hopefully never get close enough to the game to have reason to bail on them like I did the Lakers (check the archive, don’t get ‘em started…).

    We do agree on Cheslki, though. Russian blood/oil money is bad for the game.

  • Ryan Jones

    Yeah, Sam! Tell ‘em why you mad! Where are serious, thoughtful artists like Ma$e and Puffy to bring uptown back to prominence when we need them?

  • Harlem World

    Ryan, thats peace. I never have a problem with a man who can back his position up and props to you. You did.

    But…

    While I agree with you on the whole ‘bigger problem’ in our game with the AAU circuit and one n done college situation, I’m sayin…the Team USA situation maybe is the only situation that can present our superstars with a reason to get back in the lab and become more fundamentally sound players. I love watching D-Wade and LBJ overwhelm with pure athleticism more than prolly anyone, but you have to ask yourself…how good would LBJ be with all his natural physical gifts AND his unreal natural feel for the game IF he also dedicated himself to improving his fundamentals every year? I’m not sayin he ain’t workin out (we all know he is) but its apparent these euro cats are drillin harder on fundamentals than we are. I want a day when we got the superior athletes AND can match/overwhelm anyone with fundamentals too.

    The point about the euro game being different is an obvious one. If people don’t recognise that, then they don’t understand basketball. Period. Its not technically as different as Arena Football and the NFL though. Still, its a good point and one which I agree with but with our stars getting back in the lab, their ability will overcome those differences.

    Finally, I’m not telling you to chase glory. Arsenal have been my team for 15 years now and before that I liked Liverpool. I stopped supporting Liverpool when they used to throw bananas at John Barnes and call him every Black racist cuss you can think of, but he was told to ‘turn the other cheek’. Eff that. But in relation to Liverpool/Everton? I’m talkin old skool relative to their reign in the 70′s and 80′s. Check the books. NOBODY was seein Liverpool back in the day. Everton are like the NJ Nets back in the day (with the dope tye dye uni’s) – nobody takes them seriously. Seriously.

    Lang got beef with Bob? How in the hell can ANYONE have beef with Bob? He’s cool with EVERYBODY??!! Lang…WHAT D DEAL??

  • Harlem World

    Sam, I ain’t talkin to you till you show some kinda remorse for that Steve Irwin shit. That was colder than eskimo tittie.

  • Ryan Jones

    HW, your clarifications are appreciated, and it figures that we agree more than we disagree. As for the Merseyside beef, I was talking 70s & 80s, too — the 1870s and 80s. THAT’S old school. I gotta stay with the People’s Club, even if they are rolling G-14.

    Now that I think about it, maybe Liverpool is the footie equivalent of the United States of America — not in hoops, but in general. Still a world power, but its true dominance is waning. Both are red-blooded. Both are powered by an influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Both have a substantial tragedy in their semi-recent past that substantially changed their path and which they can’t seem to get over… I should stop while I’m ahead, but let me just say that Stevie G is definitely the Donald Rumsfeld in this metaphor, because he plays dirty but is allowed to get away with it and still maintain his lofty status. Alright, I’m out!

  • http://slamonline.com Sam Rubenstein

    Normally I wouldn’t make jokes about someone dying, but this guy clearly had a death wish. I was watching one of his shows a month ago and he was smacking a King Cobra on the head. That’s insane. I was at the zoo recently and I wouldn’t even get near the glass with the King Cobra behind it cause it was trying to hypnotize me. And this was just a little one. Steve was taunting a snake the size of the one that swallowed Jon Voight. The only thing more shocking than his death is that he cheated death for this long.

    This is the best euology I’ve seen for Steve Irwin, and it’s on the blog with the best title:

    http://startsnitching.blogspot.com/2006/09/crocodile-hunter-is-dead-damn.html

  • Boing Dynasty

    Slimey regurgitated Jon Voight.

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Appropos of nothing, I just walked outside to get lunch and saw an Amish dwarf.

  • Boing Dynasty

    Don’t think i didnt see you too.

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Apparently Boing works on one of those crank-operated computers that doesn’t require electricity. Well done my small friend.

  • Ryan Jones

    Anyone who knows me even a little — and certainly anyone who’s paid attention to this magazine & website for any length of time — knows I have no love for ESPN. They do a really good job of covering college football, but otherwise I really wish they would cease to exist. That usually goes for the website, too, but there are rare exceptions. This one being my semi homie Chuck Klosterman (or as Sam Online calls him, “Lobsterman”) and his latest column. It’s an exception mainly because it’s timely to much of our discussion on this board. Much like Chuck himself, the idea is nutty, but I kinda like it:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=klosterman/060907&lpos=spotlight&lid=tab6pos1

    Your thoughts?

  • Max Airington

    Klosterman is for real. I once read an entire article on the chicken industry because he made it that interesting. Wish you guys could afford him.

  • Ryan Jones

    We most definitely cannot.

  • Harlem World

    Its actually not a bad idea – if you gave those guys 2-4 years in the program, it’d be like having another college program built the same way the Euro’s do their club programs. Practise as much as you want in the day, then give them some life skills training as part of the program. It would strengthen their pro prospects too as they’d get all the exposure they could want and possibly come into a franchise already as a ‘hero’ (providing they won).

    On another note…

    Doesn’t Scoop write for ESPN?

    Ryan, you failed to mention you got time for Klosterman AND Scoop…

    Right?

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Scoop is another of the rare exceptions, yes. He went to the dark side, but he will always be SLAM at heart.

  • albie1kenobi

    much like marbury forcing the trade outta ‘sota, scoop’s only taking care of his family. and just like how KG can’t hate on steph for that, we can’t hate scoop for switching to the dark side either.

    i think i remember reading somewhere about a similar idea, building a team with youngsters who’ll only dedicate his life for team USA. (it maybe bill simmons, speaking of which, any love for him? i think he’s the funnest columnist on that otherwise godawful site.) i love the fact that it gives kids who otherwise won’t make it to the nba another avenue to their dream, and teaching them to be better people along the way. seems like a win-win situation for everyone involved, honestly.

    and since it actually makes so much sense, team USA is definitely not gonna use this approach.

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    “and since it actually makes so much sense, team USA is definitely not gonna use this approach.” WELL PUT, Albie.

    I personally have little to no love for Simmons (subtle but wierdly disturbing racial things from back in his BSG days, his lame convos with Klosterman, his error-filled English soccer column from last month, many examples in between) but he’s actually got regular readers here in Ben, Lang and (I think) Sam. Not that he’s not funny sometimes, he’s just not my guy.

  • Gilbert0

    Andy Johnson!!!

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Yes, Gil. Yes indeed — half Peter Crouch’s size but twice the player.

    LOVED that result, especially when I walked around the East Village Saturday morning in my royal blue shirt and past a glum looking couple with their shiny new pink jerseys.

  • kev

    Hey, just read your ‘Liverpool’ comment and it made me laugh how a guy who probably only started watching Everton because of Shrek (wayne rooney), reckons he’s got the rite to call Liverpool the shite. Oh well enjoy your little victory (just remember 5 times :) )

  • Harlem World

    Finally some voices of REASON on the whole USA basketball failures. Leave it to HOF’s to tell it like it is! Basically Dumar, Barkley and Nique all say that WE HAVE TO GET BETTER (like I was sayin earlier!) and stop with the excuses already. What made me think about this again was Team USA women – who have to adjust their games too, from WNBA to FIBA rules and STILL go out and represent like they are supposed to. If the women can do it, and we have the superior talent and coaching (if thats still the case?) then we need to stop making excuses. Just get back in the gym and GET BETTER. Link: http://www.ajc.com/sports/content/sports/hawks/stories/2006/09/16/0917nbainsider.html

  • http://slamonline.com Ryan Jones

    Kev,
    Good to hear from you. How is Oslo this time of year?
    My Everton interest has nothing to do with Rooney (I know they call him Shrek, and I know a lot of other names for him I won’t repeat in a family forum such as this.) Anyway, we berthed your club and your crappy ground, so I’m content with my club’s place in the world. As is this fine young man…
    http://img171.imageshack.us/img171/3930/everton3pool0kidmw4.gif

  • Harlem World

    OK, this is the last thing (unless I gotta defend my point) i’m gonna post on the Team USA thing…(ok, i’m prolly lyin – i’m practising for my ESPN gig…)

    I just read that Greece shot 71% from inside the arc and 44% from 3′s. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out you are not going to beat a team you let shoot that type of percentage. Now, alot of people will say ‘they know how to get good shots inside the FIBA system’ I say…’bullshi…’

    Ain’t no ‘D’ in Kryswhiskey?

    (yes, the alcoholic reference was intended)

  • http://www.lakerstalk.net HRE

    “I could go off on an arrogant-sounding rant about how we essentially invented (and undeniably perfected) the game, and how ludicris it is that we’ve got to play the rest of the world by their rules, but I won’t.”

    LUDICRIS? Ha. Grab yourself a dictionary, son, and stop butchering our language.

  • Ryan Jones

    Dad?
    Oh, HRE, it’s just you, and it’s obvious you’re late to this (meaning my column) since you didn’t post until a month after it went up. Figuratively speaking, you also appear either to be late to SLAM and our “hip-hop sensibility,” as it’s been described, or you’re just really, really uptight. I was casually name checking the rapper (spelled “Luda,” admittedly), and I’m not sure if that fact was obvious to you or not. Either way, if you’re really spell-checking hastily written online basketball columns at 2 in the afternoon, you’ve got WAY too much time on your hands. But as always, thanks for reading, junior.

  • Boomer Doorbar

    Basketball is the best sport on the entire planet.

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