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Thursday, May 7th, 2009 at 2:41 pm  |  46 responses

Links: The Denver Raiders?

Also, don’t mess with our Mogo…

by Lang Whitaker

First of all, I’d like to point something out…

espncopycatIn case you don’t know, the image on the left is the cover of SLAM 127, which came out on March 3 and was on newsstands for about six weeks. The image on the right is the cover of ESPN the Magazine, which came out yesterday. Just saying.

• Moving on, a couple of weeks ago I was talking to Eric Gordon of the Clippers and he told me about this new site he was involved with called MogoTXT. Before I could even investigate what it was, they approached us and today I can announce that the SLAM MogoTXT channel is launching.

What is this? I’m still not exactly sure. All I know is Ben and I can text updates to the SLAM channel and you guys can subscribe and read what SLAM is up to. You can read it on your computer or you can get it sent directly to your phone. And it’s free. Also, it’s launching in Chinese right now, too. So I guess I need to step it up on my Mandarin texting. And they’ve got a bunch of actual NBA players (Battier, Gordon, LaMarcus Aldridge, etc) on there as well.

• The one NBA team getting slept on like a Certa thus far in the Playoffs is the Denver Nuggets. They blew out the Hornets but everyone ended up talking more about the Hornets getting swatted than the Nuggets coalescing into this force they’ve become the last month or so. They can run, defend, shoot, scrap…they might mess around and make the Finals if people aren’t careful.

The only thing I really don’t like about Denver are their uniforms. For a team as explosive and dangerous as the Nuggets are, those baby blue and yellow and white uniforms are about as threatening as an Asher Roth album. It’s strange, because in a way their current uniforms sort of undermine all the tats and crazy hairstyles and make the Nuggs the most palatable team of roughnecks in recent memory. I wrote on Twitter the other night that the Nuggets need to change their uniforms and start wearing black and silver, so they’ll look as menacing as they play.

Also, Chris Andersen looks like he’s really into rockabilly music, doesn’t he? And do the TNT/ESPN announcers even know his name is Chris Andersen, or do they think his actual name is “Birdman.”

• Speaking of ESPN the Mag, I thought Bill Simmons’ latest ESPN the Mag column was interesting on a couple of levels. First, his description of the Kobe documentary is pretty much exactly what I expected the movie was going to be. Simmons writes: “I nearly impaled myself with a Twizzler near the end, when Kobe jokes on the bench with Pau Gasol (who has an “I didn’t even know Kobe knew my name!” look on his face), followed by Spike’s cutting to Kobe’s kids holding MVP signs. I had to take a postmovie shower.”

I have not seen the documentary, though I plan to watch it at some point. I did see a clip on SportsCenter or on the NBA on ABC or something. The bit that I saw featured the Lakers going into their locker room at halftime of the game Spike filmed. The players filed in and sat down, while Phil Jackson and the coaching staff went into Phil’s office to regroup, leaving the players alone in the locker room. As soon as they sat down, Kobe started giving advice to every player on the Lakers, literally going around the room and telling guys what they could do better in the second half. And Ira Newble was sitting next to him, looking like he was trying hard to keep a smirk off his face.

Anyway, Simmons’ column was mostly about athletes controlling their own image, a topic that has come up from time to time the last few years, usually in a first-person screed from older newspaper columnists bemoaning how younger guys don’t want to hang out with them on the road anymore.

I’d argue that access is still available, just in different forms. Some of the old school journalists are used to riding trains with guys and staying next door in motels on the road or whatever. These days, you’ve got to be able to exchange text messages or twitter direct messages or whatever.

I also think so much of understanding these guys is context and generational. For instance, I think it’s hilarious when Bron quoted “Friday” in his MVP press conference, though I’m sure 95 percent of the media out there had no clue what he was referring to.

It’s not that nobody gets access any more, it’s just that getting that access requires more finesse than ever before. Guys will still talk to the media, still give you access and time. It’s just that they are no longer forced to if they want to monetize their fame.

• Hey, Doug Collins might coach the Sixers? Awesome. I was worried we might have to worry about the Sixers becoming better the next few years. Whew.

• I have no interest in talking about the Hawks/Cavs series right now. The Hawks are down two starters, we’re playing the best team in the East, LeBron’s averaging 1 foul per 39 minutes. We’ll take our beating and come back next year a smarter, deeper team, I hope. (Oh, and tonight’s refs include Danny Crawford AND Violet Palmer.)

• And Kobe has to be suspended for Game 3, right? If he got suspensions for throwing out his elbow while shooting jumpers, he’s got to get one for nailing Artest in the throat, Playoffs or not.

• I enjoyed Malcolm Gladwell’s lengthy article in the new New Yorker about underdogs, which uses as an example a 12-and-under girls team that employed the full court press to overwhelm many of their opponents.

Gladwell compares this girls’ team to David overcoming Goliath, but more relevantly to hoops, Gladwell also says that the full court press is an effective way for any basketball team, regardless of how untalented they are at the fundamentals of basketball (shooting, dribbling, passing, etc.), to have a chance of winning a game.

To me, Gladwell’s theory breaks down when the full court press meets talented, skilled players. Twelve year olds? Sure, it’ll probably work. But Gladwell also heralds Rick Pitino as a purveyor of this strategy. And there’s a reason Rick Pitino was 192-220 as an NBA coach and why, when coaches who used the press get to bigger programs and go against better competition, one point guard can break the press on his own. Gladwell never mentions Pitino’s abject failure using the full court press in the NBA.

The other thing I think Gladwell underplays regarding the effectiveness of the press is the element of surprise. (I actually did a search in the piece for the word “surprise,” but it’s not in there.) If you don’t know you’re going to be facing a harried, harassing defense, you’re way more likely to be caught off guard and go down 20, 25 points to start the game, like the team in the story does to their opponents. To me, surprising your opponent is sort of the crux of the story. How did David beat Goliath? He surprised him.

Anyway, it’s a fascinating story and worth reading. There’s also a great story about a doctor they call “the Marco Polo of neuroscience.” In the story this doctor is treating a patient who is battling a lifelong compulsion to have his perfectly healthy leg amputated. For reals.

• Been meaning to talk about the SLAM Podcast for a minute. We did two full-on episodes about a month ago before I realized that I can’t do all 26 of my jobs and produce and edit a podcast also, at least a podcast with a couple of guests each week. So I’m gonna try to bring it back with fewer guests but more frequency. And once we get iTunes on board I’ll link that up, too.

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Matt Caputo

    one.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    Breaking News: Evan Longoria was just banned for taking performance enhancing drugs.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Sleep on the Denver Nuggets if you want.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    F*ck ESPN the Magazine. Although imitation is the sincerest form of…..well you know. The Kobe film?…..uhm yeah. Oh……CAPUTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    Caputo is a traitor.

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com/ TADOne

    I was certain that Lang was going to mention Manny Ramirez.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    ESPN- Espn Stole, Plagiarized, N. haha couldn’t find a word that fit with N. Sorry guys. I tried.

  • http://sfdjilf.com Jukai

    Lebron is averaging one foul epr 39 minutes because they played a team full of weak jump shooters who pretty much never drove (IE the Pistons). Whenever they did drive, Lebron was on the bench.
    Christ…

  • Coach Master

    Whao? No mention of Hawks v. Celtics?

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    oooo, lebron mentioned friday!! thats so cool. wow. i know and like that movie! lebron is great!!! i hope he mentions are we there yet in his next speech. thatd be neato!

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    @Coach Master: No, I didn’t want to mention Hawks vs. Celtics. Because that series was last year.

  • http://www.alllooksame.com Tarzan Cooper

    kobes fake leadership is quite hilarious.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    Tarzan, I think he has REAL leadership, I just feel like he fakes the FRIEND aspect of his leadership when mic’d up n whatnot

  • http://www.shawn-kemps-offspring.blogspot.com Eboy

    ^HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! F*ck, Walsh should have tried out for a spot at National Lampoon!!!!

  • funkymunky

    Hahaha Denver Raiders, that’s hilarious and so on point. Amazing what winning does for the image of a team. Last season, the Nuggs were considered a team full of punks b/c of all the tats they rocked and all the swagger they showed. But now, all that posing and glaring is regarded as toughness.

  • funkymunky

    Hahaha Denver Raiders, that’s hilarious and so on point. Amazing what winning does for the image of a team. Last season, the Nuggs were considered a team full of punks b/c of all the tats they rocked and all the swagger they showed. But now, all that posing and glaring is regarded as toughness.

  • funkymunky

    Dont get it twisted tho. I like all those menacing glares and arm flexing (Birdman’s celebrations and demeanor on the court reminds me of a pro wrestler). I like how they’re single-handedly trying to bring back the 90s, but still play new millenium up-tempo. As long as all the thuggery is limited to the court. Now that I think about it, I dont think any of the players on Nuggets except Birdman and JR Smith had any off the court trouble.

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Classic links. When I’m back on computer instead of blackberry I will throw in a link to SI’s biting as well, though it wasn’t as egregious as this one. Also, I’m very sad about the Manny news undermining what the Dodgers have been accomplishing. Also also, come follow us on MOGOtxt!

  • Ken

    If the NBA isn’t going to suspend Rondo for eating babies in the Bulls locker room, they certainly won’t suspend Kobe in the playoffs…ever.

  • ciroqobama

    @funkymunky @ 3:26: Melo’s dui doesn’t ring a bell?

  • Jeronimo

    Actually, I think the Nuggets’ previous uniform (the one they had when Antonio Mc Dyess or Nick Van Exel were there) was great. They should go back to that.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Tzvi Twersky

    MOGOtxt is the future. It is to the summer of ’09 what Twitter was to the winter.

  • http://www.citiesoftheplain.net/ Sam Rigby

    “How did David beat Goliath? He surprised him.” Great point. I dug that Gladwell piece, but I’m not sure the inclusion of the 12 year olds didn’t really proved his point. Oh and also, I mean, I suppose they may have gotten the idea from you guys…but then, you got it from the mainstream motion picture that was titled “Tropic Thunder,” so aren’t we just talking about degrees here? I would’ve thought you guys would’ve been into the Creative Commons thing…

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    Sam, but us getting it from a movie is an entirely different medium of entertainment, so it’s kind of cliche, yet it’s a thing where you go… “Miami…Beach…Tropical. OH SH** TROPICAL THUNDER!” But when you just verbatim copy n paste the title of the MAIN cover feature deal, it’s kind of like… Oh, you guys just jacked it. Remember when that youtube user (more specifically expiredpineapples) made the art of war NBA dunk/block mix that was epic and had the amazing requiem for a dream song? You remember how that got HUUUUUUGE on youtube, then all of a sudden ESPN was using it for their sportscenter playoff promos? Yeah, in the video production community it was kind of like “reaaaally guys? You just let us do all the work in grassroots, we prove that it’s liked and that there’s a place in the market for it, then you copy the formula and act like it’s original OG stuff.” That’s kind of what it is.

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    TROPIC*. Oh, also Sam, that whole spiel in the previous comment about the art of war thing, that’s just my opinion. It’s not like SLAM sits around and goes OH GOTCHA! Haha

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    I came up with the idea to use “Tropic Thunder” as a cover line after I saw the movie a while ago. Yes, the movie company or producers or whoever came up with that phrase and got it into the lexicon. We applied it to a cover and gave the phrase a new context. We were the first sports mag to use that as a cover line. For an image with a sunset in the background. With an athlete from Florida as the subject.

  • Khalid Salaam

    Manny says it wasn’t steriods and i believe him. If it turns out he’s telling a lie, well , thats gonna suck. and for me that will be the last straw. baseball’s hanging on by a thread as is…re: doug collins coaching the sixers—!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F*%*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NOOOOOO!!!………….

  • Khalid Salaam

    Manny says it wasn’t steriods and i believe him. If it turns out he’s telling a lie, well , thats gonna suck. and for me that will be the last straw. baseball’s hanging on by a thread as is…re: doug collins coaching the sixers—!!!!!!!!!!!!!! F*%*!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!NOOOOOO!!!………….

  • kingofsota

    cosign khalid

  • http://www.twitter.com/TheDiesel Anton

    Wasn’t the new SLAM cover supposed to have been revealed today?

  • http://sjsu.edu davidR

    lang, do you have the link to that article about the doctor?

  • http://lastknickstanding.blogspot.com Bryan

    Just get doug out of the announcer booth. And let him take reggie.

  • http://slamonline.com Lang Whitaker

    The doctor article’s not online. And the new SLAM cover will drop on Monday.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    LMFAO @ ESPN the magazine stealing SLAM’s cover. That ish is inappropriate, really. I don’t normally say this, but that only proves SLAM is the best sports mag out there.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    I also have a quick question about the sportswriting business that you guys do. How early do you start your articles, before the newest issues drop? I’ve wondered this for a while.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    Justin Walsh Posted: May.7 at 2:57 pm
    ESPN- Espn Stole, Plagiarized, N. haha couldn’t find a word that fit with N. Sorry guys. I tried.
    ________________________________________________
    Just do what ESPN do, look elsewhere….
    there’s dictionary.com, thesaurus.com, urban dictionary.com…
    I’m very dissapointed in the youth of today.

  • http://www.triplejunearthed.com/dacre Dacre

    I haven’t looked at a single twitter feed in my life, I’m certainly not going to mogo anything or anyone. sorry. how about someone go buy a newspaper again?? Have you seen the sales figures plummet?

  • El Gee

    I can’t believe y’all stole that cover from ESPN. LMAO. Nah, but for real Manny juicing bothers me a lot. I was just getting back into baseball. Does this mean he doesn’t make the HOF?!?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    The SI cover that bothered us was their draft preview, “ready to rock the NFL”…their site is super confusing and I couldn’t even find it there, but you can see it on eBay here: http://cgi.ebay.com/NFL-DRAFT-PREVIEW-BAND-OF-BROTHRS-USC-LINEBACKERS-SI_W0QQitemZ300309921651QQcmdZViewItemQQimsxZ20090423?IMSfp=TL090423145005r5788
    That came out like two weeks after the Rubio/Jennings and Stephenson/Wall “Ready to Rock” covers came out. Quite possibly a coincidence but Lang and I noticed that one too as a possible bite.
    I plan to spend my summer covering both extremes of the communication revolution: Reading two print newspapers a day while also MOGOtxting… Go Dodgers. And sorry about the cover delay. Publisher wants it held til Monday.

  • chintao

    @ Justin Walsh Posted: May.7 at 2:57 pm ==> One possibility is “Nicked”.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Oh okay, thanks for the answer SLAM dudes.

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Wow, good article by Bill Simmons.

  • Tekno

    How did David beat Goliath? Uh…something to do with the big fella upstairs.

  • chintao

    After reading the Malcom Gladwell thing, I now find Kobe “socially horrifying”.

  • Tavoris

    Lebron got 1 foul last nite. That’s 2 TOTAL in the playoffs…Maybe it’s the All-NBA defense nbk was raving about

  • Nugnugz

    black and silver uniforms = the Spurs. While I agree the Nuggets need new unis, I can do without yet another black uni in this league (I would also like to posit there are too many red unis in the L as well). Everyone and their mom knows the Nuggets need to go back to their 80s unis but instead of a rainbow color scheme do one of various shades of blues. word.

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