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Friday, June 12th, 2009 at 1:25 pm  |  86 responses

Links: SLAM goes Nutzz

Fri-Day! Yes!

by Lang Whitaker

Three questions worth answering from Game 4:

1) Should we blame the Orlando loss on Dwight Howard for missing free throws down the stretch?

Dwight is my guy, but yes, absolutely, he deserves at least partial blame for the loss. Of course, every Orlando player should get a little heat. Jameer Nelson should’ve played up on Derek Fisher on that three point attempt. With the game tied, there’s no way Orlando should’ve burned two timeouts and still ended up with Mickael Pietrus taking their final shot of regulation.

Sure, Dwight played an awesome game, finishing with 16 points, 21 rebounds and 9 blocked shots. But Duh-wight also had a whopping 7 turnovers (as many as all of the Lakers players had combined), and he shot a miserable 43 percent from the free throw line. Hey, It’s not every day a Magic player can resemble both Shaq and Nick Anderson. Those kind of numbers might win you a Division, or maybe even a Conference. But they aren’t good enough to get you a Championship.

2) Shouldn’t that have been a foul on Kobe for elbowing Jameer Nelson on the chin?

Probably. But then it also should’ve been a foul on Dwight Howard a few seconds earlier when he bent Pau Gasol with a forearm shiver. (That was pretty funny that they called a foul on Fisher on that play, as though Fisher had the strength to knock over not only Dwight Howard but Pau Gasol as well.)

I know picking on the refs is the easy thing to do, for both fans and writers, but I think there’s something to be said for not making calls in certain situations. Did Gasol touch the rim at the end of Game 2 while Courtney Lee was trying that game-winning lay-up? Yes. Was that technically a violation? Yes. But did Gasol affect the shot in any way at all? No, so I like that the refs put the whistles away there.

Similarly, even though Kobe decked Nelson on that play, I thought it was a good no-call because it wasn’t like Kobe went out of his way to drill Nelson with his elbow. With the clock running down, with the game on the line, Kobe was simply trying to get the ball to the open guy. Nelson was right up in his grill, contact was made, but none of it was intentional. (The Lakers might even be able to make a good argument that Nelson wasn’t giving Kobe the space to make that pass.)

3) Should the Lakers replace Derek Fisher next season?

I think they should. Sure he hit two huge threes down the stretch, but he’s also mostly stood around and watched as Rafer Alston zoomed past him in every game. He can no longer create his own shot, and he doesn’t have the speed to keep up with most starting point guards (Aaron Brooks, I presume).

L.A. has a bunch of money problems coming up this summer, but I think they really need to figure out some way to move Fisher to the bench (he’d be a better Sasha Vujacic than Sasha Vujacic is) and get another guard to start; not necessarily a point guard, but an athletic guard who can defend and be the Ron Harper to Kobe’s MJ.

• And like I wrote yesterday, I’m sticking with LA in five.

• I have two quality Separated at Birth’s today, two Lakers with the always difficult cross-species calls.

First, my cousin submitted this one with Pau Gasol and I think a creature from Star Wars.

Microsoft Word - gasol separated at birth.docx

Second, here’s Kobe (doing his new weird jaw thing) and either the Alien or the Predator from Alien vs. Predator.

sabkobe

As always, if you have a good Separated at Birth, send it in.

• Hey, it’s a link to an interview with me!

• One of my favorite Cajuns on Twitter asked if I could explain the most recent Ricky Rubio contract story. I don’t fully understand it either, but from what I can tell, once Ricky officially told Joventut that he wanted out of his contract, the Rubios and Joventut appeared headed for arbitration to see if Ricky could get a lower buyout on his deal that the reported $6 million.

Then, at least according to this report from ESPN.com, the Spanish IRS, which is called Hacienda, approached Joventut on some unrelated ish and informed the team that they owed some significant back taxes. The team said OK, and then realized that the Rubio’s were under contract to give them about $6 million if Ricky was leaving. Think of it like an IOU. Joventut knew Ricky owed them $6 mil, so they instead just passed the IOU over to Hacienda.

Now, I’m not sure what all this means, exactly. If Ricky leaves and goes to play in the NBA, he was supposed to have to pay Joventut to become a free agent. But what if he decided to stay in Spain? Would he no longer be the property of Joventut? I’m very curious to see how all of this plays out.

• And finally…

If you haven’t heard, the media is dead. There are no jobs, there’s no ad money, people aren’t buying magazines, etc. Writers can’t find work, editors can’t get gigs. So we should all just quit and go home and get jobs at McDonald’s or something.

Well, not so fast, there. Every time I read a story about how there’s no work out there for anyone, I kind of laugh. Because I’m always on the lookout for writers to hire to write for SLAM. Yes, we have a great crew of people who contribute regularly to our magazine. But we can also always improve. I read articles by people I’ve never heard of every single day, looking for different voices or new ideas that will fit within the SLAM formula. That was how we added Bethlehem Shoals to the SLAM team a few years ago before FreeDarko blew up. And that’s how, in the new issue of SLAM, we have a great feature by James Morris.

You might be asking, Who? Well, James Morris is allegedly from a website called Wizznutzz.com. (Although I’m sure the Wizznutzz will insist there’s no such person as James Morris.) I’ve been reading Wizznutzz.com for a while now, and the posts never fail to make me laugh out loud. Sometimes the stories are a little difficult to decipher, but they’re always highly entertaining.

So we got in touch with the ‘Nutzz and asked if they’d be interested in doing a story on what it’s like being a fan of the Wizards, a franchise that was slogging through yet another disappointing season. They obliged, although the story was turned in written on greasy paper bags.

Here’s the first half of the feature the Wizznutzz wrote in SLAM 130. If you want to read the entire thing, go buy a copy of the magazine!

CAPITAL OFFENSE

As this season proves, the Washington Wizards may still be the most frustrating franchise in the NBA. Just ask the Wizznutzz.
by James Morris of Wizznutzz.com

As the idiot kings of Washington, DC basketball blogging, we know a great many things about our home team. We know, for example, that Juan Dixon carries his own toilet paper on road trips and that Chris Webber once cut a rap single where he rhymed “Lettuce” with “Jerome Bettis.” We know that if you re-arrange the letters in “Gilbert Arenas” you get ANGEL RAREBITS. But there are some things we don’t know, like how you spell “threepeat,” or what happens at a ring ceremony. For us, these are the unknowables. We have a motto about Washington basketball: Our story isn’t one of triumph and trophies and ESPN highlights. Ours is mostly a story about not overcoming odds.

From ’82-83 through ’04-05, the Washington Wizards (née Bullets) didn’t win a single Playoff series. Twenty-two years! To give you a sense of how long that is: In 1982, there was no such thing as Phylicia Rashad. In 1982, you might have felt like listening to a Whodini cassingle, but you couldn’t because the cassingle hadn’t even been invented yet. Twenty-two years, no Playoff series, no MVPs, no national TV. Here is a complete list of franchise accomplishments from that time period: 1992: Pervis Ellison wins “Most Improved Player” award; 1996: Tim Legler wins the Three-Point Shootout; 1998: Tracy Murray scores 50 points in a game; 2001: Calvin Booth gets his driver’s license.

During that era, we lost in every way possible. We were out-shot, out-hustled and out-dressed. Blown-out, buzzer-beaten and season-swept. We had teams that were thin on big men, and teams that were big on thin men. We lacked intangibles and lacked tangibles. We drafted busts, flops, DNPs and DUIs. We had more rebuilding years than Haiti. We lost with past-their-prime veterans (Bernard, Moses, MJ), with before-their-prime youngsters (Rasheed, Big Ben) and with the primeless (Terry Davis). We suffered bad coaching (Gar Heard was discovered at a mall!), bad contracts (Juwan Howard, a one-man Ponzi scheme), bad trades (Webber for Thorpe, Wallace for Austin, Blake for “Magic Beans”) and bad injuries. More than anything, we suffered the injuries. We know all teams go through injuries; it’s part of the game. But over the years, we’ve had some truly freakish afflictions, like when Chris Whitney was diagnosed with Restless Legs Syndrome, or the time doctors discovered a colony of spiders living in Robert Pack’s knee, or when Ledell Eackles played through a paralyzed face, or when Christian Laettner lost his brave battle with menopause.

And then a kid called Zero showed up, who was good enough, and maybe just crazy enough, to kiss the franchise frog on the lips, who would dare to wrestle the monkey off our collective backs and lead us out of the shadows and into the promised land. (The wrestling the monkey part was pretty easy actually, once he pulled the monkey’s Jim McIlvaine jersey over its head.) Gilbert didn’t waste any time. He set about with furious purpose. He launched dagger upon dagger, he scored 40, then 50, then 60! He led us to a dramatic Playoff series win against the Bulls and deep into Round 2 one year, and matched LeBron blow for blow in front of a national television audience the next.

It was like he was trying to make up for lost time, to fill a franchise film reel that for 22 years had nothing on it except for the few minutes at the beginning where Calbert Cheaney is staring at the camera saying, “Hey, is this thing on?” In a few short months, the whole city was stirred from the ground, like that 17-year cicada we have in DC, the “Brood-X” cicada.

And then…boom, it was over. Zero crumpled to the floor, his knee giving in to the weight of history. Then Brendan Haywood went down, then DeShawn Stevenson. Our key bench players, Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason Jr., left town. Coach Jordan got fired. So there we were, back in the NBA’s basement, running out a lineup of barely-legals: Young, McGee, McGuire, Crittenton and the Curious Andray Blatche, the only player in the League who appears to be aging backward.

What have we done to deserve this? Are we cursed? I mean, besides that Romanian gypsy curse we got for stealing farmer Muresan’s baby. Are we like Sisyphus, condemned each day to heave a boulder up the hill, only to wake the next morning to find it has rolled right back down? Are we like Icarus, punished by the Gods for our ambition, for daring to dream? (If you don’t know the tale of Icarus, it’s about Tony Icarus, who killed his wife and was sent to Alcatraz for his crime. There he earned the nickname “The Birdman of Alcatraz,” because he trained pigeons in his cell by feeding them cheap prison heroin. Each day he would pluck a few feathers from his pigeon friends, until after many years he had enough feathers and built himself giant bird wings so he could fly out of jail and into freedom. When the day came for the great escape, Tony carved a fake head out of wax and placed it under his sheets so the guards would look in his cell and see a lump under a sheet thick with bird droppings and say, “That’s just Tony Icarus sleeping!” Then the time came and Tony leaped from his window. He only had one shot, but the wings worked perfectly! He soared up over the prison and swooped down by the ocean and whooped and laughed and cried with joy. But there was one problem: back in Tony’s cell, the hot sunlight had melted the wax head, and all the pigeons were screaming because they had become trapped in the hot wax, but also because they were having withdrawal symptoms from missing their morning heroin. The racket brought the guards around and they raised the alarm, and as Icarus did one last pass over the horrible island that had kept him for so long, the tower guards shot him in the back, and he crashed to the rocks and the tower guards yelled into their walkie talkies: “Birdman Down! Birdman Down!”)

(for the rest, pick up SLAM 130!)

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  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Tori Spelling is actually a dead ringer for Admiral Akbar.

  • http://double-technical.blogspot.com Zee!

    From the neck down Tori is right though. About 5 years ago that is. ANGEL RAREBITS!!!

  • Czar Ruke

    I think I just got dumber after reading that last paragraph. Hilarious up until that craziness.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Oh man, Lang just described Admiral Ackbar as “a creature from Star Wars”. (totally correct of course, but come on, dude, did you not know it or were you afraid of being labeled a fanboy if you had named him?)

  • http://slamonline.com B. Long

    The Kobe Alien one made me spit coke on my computer. Wow.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Tony Icarus from Alcatraz…yeah, uh huh.

  • Admiral A.

    IT’S A TRAP!!!

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

    Nelson, if anything, ran into Kobe’s elbow before Kobe knew he was there. The contact with Nelson was clearly unintentional on Bryant’s part.

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

    Mon Calamari in the heezy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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

    anyone who thinks that didnt see the play. kobe is standing there watching jameer come to him and raises and aims his elbow right on jameer’s chin, its quite obvious, esp on the above-court camera

  • http://www.slamonline.com Myles Brown

    Rony Turiaf or Ronaldo Balkman might actually be the Predator.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    That’s what i’m talking ’bout. Eboy knows his Star Wars races. Leave me some space on that Star Cruiser, E.

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

    you are all fn dorks

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Loving how the old school Links are back…

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

    Didn’t Lang make a Nien Nunb Seperated At Birth connection before?

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    At times, Tarzan…. at times.

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

    this reminds me of triumph the insult comic dog going to a star wars convention, and what a surprise, no girls!

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

    Then what are you doing here, dorkaroo? Flogging your lightsaber?

  • Ken

    Laughed a ton. For some reason the “magic beans” joke really killed me.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    “flogging your lightsaber”?? Oh my gawd! i can’t stop laughing at that..

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Actually Tarzan, there were girls in that clip, including a pregnant one that Triumph spoke to then ripped with an all timer…. watch it again.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    wow, this whole “new server” business is irritating… Ryne must be p*ssed at all the delays / no shows. (then again, according to M. Brown, the Slam contributors all hate the comments section anyway nowadays, so maybe now they are happy not everything gets displayed)

  • http://slamonline.com/ Justin Walsh

    Darksaber, wait why do slam people hate comments? I pride myself in answering any comment…even a negative one that rags on me.

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

    Hi Justin!

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

    We’re all stupid….didn’t you get the interoffice memo? Not just some of us…..all of us. That was the generalization that was made today.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    I don’t ever really “LOL” at anything but that Pau picturing has my ribs hurting right now. and to answer your first question lang, yes. The series would be 2-2 and I would be on suicide watch if Dwight would have hit those free throws last night. I’m so glad clark kent came to the game during the last part of the game. play wit it.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Don’t mind me Justin, it’s just a thing going on between a few of us and Mr. Salty (Myles). He keeps acting like the Comment-Section Funpolice and stating that some of the regular writers like Russ etc. have abandoned this forum due to the utter stupidity of us others… (i’m sure it’s not because Russ is having a blast on Twitter or so…)

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    hey eboy………play wit it.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    hey eboy…play wit it.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    DP IS IN THE BUILDING. Oh i’ve missed “play wit it”. Now, apropos suicide watch, anyone know if ENDS is still healthy and breathing?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    yo it’s follow friday on twitter!! get your twitter game up and follow your boy twitter.com/VontaeP. If you don’t have one, get one. I was so suprised last night that half the people on twitter are die-hard magic fans. play wit it.

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

    Hi DP. You better rep a D-Fish jersey this summer. That’s the dude who has all the balls on your squad.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Hmm, i might just do that, DP.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    I admit that all season I have been on fisher’s back for always taking stupid three pointers but now I have to issue an apology to him just as I did for Wade. Fisher is the reason why they might get this ring…I won’t say this series is over until the lakers when 4 games…these dude have had a 3-1 lead before. It didn’t end pretty if I remember that far back…play wit it.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    DP, the Magic’s fate is nearly sealed. They needed all 3 games at home to force the issue, and they sure as hell are not going to win two in Hell-A in the Finals. The regular season, this a’int.

  • http://dsjklff.com Jukai

    Darksaber: The comment section IS all stupid.

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

    There’s no way they can f this up, DP. Phil won’t let that happen.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Oh come on Juk’s, you can’t mean that.

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

    Dark……ask him why he’s here everyday then? Simple question, yes?

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Where was all that damn tongue(pause) last night with Hedo in OT. I mean he is the turkey MJ so you would think he wouldn’t pass up so many shots late. play wit it.

  • Ricky

    Hilarious article.

    And, Shannon Brown is the guy you described for the Lakers. Just needs one good training camp (like Ariza had) to learn the triangle.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Good point, E.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Hedo had a bad case of prematurus congratulatius yesterday. Then rigor mortis set in, simple as that.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Exactly. If you don’t like the place, why the hell are you on here? play wit it.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Oh ho. The separated at births are classic. And what’s this talk of the death of the Comments section?

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

    It didn’t help that Rashard played like it was the preseason.

  • http://hibachi20.blogspot.com DP

    Joel, hopefully there is no D.O.C. as there is D.O.A. play wit it.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    Scoop just wrote a nice article on Anthony Johnson over at the follower. So on point.

  • http://www.slamonline.com wayno

    OMG, the Pau/Admiral Akbar comparison made me audibly laugh at work…everyone looked at me like I was crazy…fantastic!

  • http://yomommaisugly.com Allenp

    Sensitive thugs, y’all all need hugs.

  • Khalid Salaam

    dude, its the alien from alien/predator and the alien movies. how can u not know that? aliens (the 2nd one) is on my top twenty all-time list with such great as the poseidon adventure and antwone fisher…

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Antwone Fisher was a great movie… but top 20?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Interesting.

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

    dark, i remember, there was one girl. anyways, it was hard to see shard shoot 2-10. and ariza was literally the difference in the series.

  • luckyluciano

    dont worry lang, you can alway come to austalia and clean my up towns for me

  • http://slamonline.com B. Long

    Wizznutzz is solid. I love their t-shirt’s too.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @DP: What’s a DOC? A DOA?

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    @Tarzan: Not to mention Ariza’s clutch steals against Denver essentially let the Lakers win two (I think?) games in which they were outplayed for the most part.

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Regarding Dwight… what is his ceiling offensively? For someone so physically explosive, I feel he doesn’t attack the rim enough; many of his moves are *horizontal* moves that don’t get him any closer to the basket. Like his “go-to” running hook thing, where he essentially bounds slow-mo across the width of the lane and ends up at the other end of it by the time he releases his shot. He needs to be more decisive/wily with his explosiveness. Can he, though?

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    (Smiling proudly)

  • http://joeloholic.wordpress.com Joel O’s

    Recall that a summer ago in Beijing, Dwight kinda was Team USA’s forgotten man due to his offensive inefficiency, and lost his minutes to Chris Bosh (who was their killer 3rd/4th option on every play). IMHO though, I think Howard may never become the offensive force some hope he becomes; I think he’ll end up with a career akin to a souped up version of Mutombo’s.

  • http://www.slamonline.com Blinguo

    Lang providin’ work > Kobe Doin’ Work. Following those links, to WizzNutzz shop, that’s where the Obama/Gilbert ’08 shirt you talked about in an earlier week’s Links came from. Awesome. Shawn Kemp Baby shirt, also awesome. S.K.O. is probably already up on it.

  • Joe

    Is pau gasol really trying to get tougher by copying kobes new face? Why the heck would he try and copy that? I like pau as a player but he’s got to man up I’m tired of seeing the camera cut to him after a foul and see his chin quivering up and him close to tears and this just makes it worse

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Brandon Jennings finally speaking his mind. I always kinda knew that he wasn’t feeling Rubio’s game like that, but, being in Europe, he had to fall back. He UNLEASHED at the Kings’ interview. Saying that dude was basically all hype and the only thing that he had going for him was ‘homerun passes’. He even said that in a work out with himself, Holiday, Lawson, Flynn and Curry… Rubio would be at the bottom. Oh, and that he couldn’t wait to whoop his a– in summer league play. Them are fighting words.

  • ti-sizz

    I’ve always thought that kobe’s new face makes him look like a rodent.. a rat. Lang, can you get up a picture of said animal, and compare it to kobe please? That would be great.

  • Jackie Moon

    Johan Petro looks like Admiral Ackbar, too.

  • http://www.lkz.ch Darksaber

    ahh, Ackbar references/comparisons… Good times

  • catalan

    here in spain, when pau has no beard, and other haircut… E.T.

  • catalan

    a.bynum is like a young jackson 5…

  • http://slamonline.com Ben Osborne

    Lang/Andy: where’s my retro brand t-shirt?

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  • AZ

    this is when Lang is at his best. I love the old school links

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    @ Z: THAT IS AWESOME! I can’t wait to see Jennings play, I hope that kid goes to New York, or Toronto. I also can’t wait to see him vs. Rubio and show the world who really is the best point guard this draft.
    Unless Johnny Flynn and Ty Lawson somehow do that instead… But Brandon is going to be awesome.

  • http://slamonline.com Walt Williams

    I can’t believe know one is talking about Dwight’s inability to catch the ball up high and leave it up high.7 turnovers and at least 4 were from getting stripped. 4 years in and he still doesn’t get it Just turn and flip it in. It is painful to watch his methodical, robotical post game. Why the drop step? If he doesn’t bring the ball down, he doesn’t get fouled and miss those two freebies. Ewing doesn’t necesarily deserve a “pat” on the back.

  • http://slamonline.com Walt Williams

    -no one

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

    ITS A TARP

  • http://www.manutd.com Z

    Spot on, Walt. Dwight is not a quick jumper like a Marion or even Gasol. He has to gather himself (and bring the ball below his waist) to throw it down. He’s a superstar but I just don’t get the feeling that he’s a gym rat. He’s gotten better at what he does but he hasn’t expanded or tweaked his game at all. Where’s the face up J? Where’s the dropstep? Where’s the jumphook? He only got that awkward running hook through the lane. And even that is an east-west move.

  • http://Nicekicks.com MeloMan22

    werent Back Taxes made up by Ashton Kutcher to Punk Justin Timberlake?

  • Teddy-the-Bear

    Dwight needs a “Dream Shake”

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  • Jason Thompson

    It’s a trap!!!

  • Jason Thompson

    It’s a trap!!!

  • http://yahoo.com Logan

    that pic of pau gasol is funny, man he is ugly, and i hate him. he does his grizzly bear yell every damn time he is in the lane and gets calls just cause he yells.

  • http://nationofmillions.ca ciolkstar

    Pau’s ugliness is really impressive.

  • http://nationofmillions.ca ciolkstar

    LOVE The Wizznutzz

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