Saturday, February 16th, 2008 at 4:07 am  |  37 responses

Rookie/Sophomore Game TNT report

Didn’t make it to New Orleans? Russ Bengtson didn’t either. Doesn’t mean he isn’t watching.

by Russ Bengtson

I’m gonna be honest. I’m no fan of the annual rookie-sophomore game. Sure, it’s fun to see the guys you wouldn’t ordinarily get to see (not many Memphis and Milwaukee games on national TV), and it’s normally a high-scoring affair with lots of dunks and fast breaks.

But it also encapsulates everything that’s wrong with American basketball. Still. Understanding that it’s more or less an exhibition game, there’s still no defense, bad passes by the pound, and virtually no shots that aren’t either a three or a dunk. There’s little chance that a rookie-sophomore game will ever be used as a coaching tool, unless it’s to say “don’t play like this.”

That said, when 9 p.m. rolled around, I was tuned into TNT like everyone else. Some observations:


Ernie, Chuck and the Jet are at mid-court, addressing both the TV audience and the people in the arena. Ernie doesn’t seem to understand that the microphone is amplifying his voice—stop shouting, please.

Al Horford handles the rookie intros like a pro, right down to Spanish inflections for Juan Carlos Navarro (he rolls the hell out of the R’s) and nicknames when necessary. Good that he has something to fall back on just in case the whole basketball thing doesn’t work out. He’s one of the guys I really want to see play, because I’m not interested in watching a Hawks game on purpose. Sorry, Lang.

Rudy Gay introduces the sophomores acceptably, but with far less flair—although he pretends to not know Jordan Farmar’s name, which is kind of funny. Farmar winks at him. Rudy better be more creative in the dunk contest.

I told someone yesterday that I wanted to play a drinking game during this game—doing a shot when someone either makes a smart defensive play or a conservative pass. Could start that one with an empty bottle.


Two 20-minute halves for this game. Not sure why they don’t make it a regular 48-minute game with quarters like any other NBA game. It’s not like it’s an event-filled night (other than parties and such).

Whoa, Ernie, Chuck and Jet are actually calling the game. Good deal. Charles is lauding sophomores Brandon Roy and Rudy Gay, and Kenny likes Juan Carlos Navarro, who’s one of three rookies over the age of 27. The others are Jamario Moon and Luis Scola. I wonder how many All-Stars are UNDER the age of 27, but not enough to actually look it up. Off the top of my head, Dwight, Bron, Melo, CP3, Dwyane.

Either Craig Sager is dressed really subdued (which is weird for him, especially in New Orleans) or they invented some kind of new filter to shoot him with.

Kevin Durant is apparently wearing his new signature shoe, but I can’t see it behind this awful yellow glare. Oh, those ARE his shoes. Nevermind. (A check of Yahoo! Photos later reveals that LaMarcus Aldridge is wearing the same shoes in red. Odd.)

The first two baskets are dunks from the sophomores. Of course.

The stands are filled with pink-clad kids, who haven’t stopped shrieking three minutes in. Enthusiasm is great, but man. Then again, it’s better than having the seats filled with random corporate sponsors and whatnot. (The pink jerseys they’re all wearing are courtesy of T-Mobile.)

Durant is in control for the rookies, at least on the scoring side of things. Although Al Horford is making his presence known on the boards and is Chuck’s pick for ROY. Mine too, actually. He’s nearly averaging a double-double for a team that’s still in the playoff chase (even if it’s in the East). Durant, meanwhile, is putting up great scoring numbers on lousy shooting for a team that’s headed right back to the lottery. KD might be great someday, but Horford is a difference maker already.

Durant with a great lookaway to Horford for the open dunk—rookies up 1 with 12:50 to go.

Well, that doesn’t last long. Rudy Gay for three.

Sager sits down between KG and LeBron. KG is in his usual sweater over shirt and tie and huge diamond earrings, Bron is wearing an ugly leather jacket that looks like something from Chess King and has lines shaved into his head. He looks like he should be in a Naughty By Nature video.

Horford, NASTY follow dunk of a Durant miss. Charles is talking about him incessantly, and I can’t blame him.

Lots of jumpers are going off the back rim. To me, that’s a sign that guys might be a little overexcited.

Apparently Paul Millsap hasn’t missed a game since junior high.

Sean Williams coast-to-coast!

Deron Williams and Chris Paul are sitting next to each other in All-Star row. Gotta wonder whether Paul is needling Williams for not making the ASG—probably not. Paul’s too nice a guy for that.

I’d prefer to not discuss Rajon Rondo’s shoes.

Sean Williams goes coast-to-coast again, and finishes with the oop to himself off the backboard. First time that’s happened in the rookie game, I think. Somewhere Jamal Crawford and Tracy McGrady are smiling.

Boobie Gibson drops a long trey and follows it with another one. Bron is on his feet.

Williams with a follow, and Boobie with ANOTHER three. Bron is still up, pacing the baseline like an expectant father. By the way, Boobie’s my choice to win the three-point shootout.

Boobie for three, AGAIN. He’s got a star shaved into his head, which seems entirely appropriate. More appropriate than Lamar Odom’s anyway. And finally a miss.

Farmar to Roy, who tries to bang it on Sean Williams. Mercy. Sean is down for a little bit, gets up with a “thank God that didn’t happen” smile on his face. Roy to the line after a time out.

Live performance by ‘Jordin Sparks’ at the half? Not only do I not know who that is, but I don’t even know whether it’s a guy or a girl. I have no plans to find out.

Farmar buries a ridiculous fallaway that’s more like a 10-foot jumpback.

Boobie misses another three, Millsap cleans up the mess.

“Yi, that man can get it done. It would be a great name to have to sign autographs.”—CB (The first part of that is more of a paraphrase, my short-term memory is failing me.)

Another Boobie three, another Durant bucket

Boobie’s now tied Kyle Korver’s rookie game three-point record—with a minute to go in the half. He’s got seven.

“You’ve got a mouse in the house, take him, don’t shoot that jumper!”—CB, seeing Durant guarded on the perimeter by Boobie. Durant shoots the jumper. And misses.

The sophs are up 14 at the half.

Sages interviewing Boobie, and before he can say anything, LeBron breaks in and starts going off about how it’s DG’s time and this is only the beginning and whatnot—and then he lets Boobie actually HAVE his time.


Missed the start of the second half. But apparently Charles wants guys to have to stay in college at least TWO years? Because it would help the League AND college? Come on, Charles! Tell LeBron that. Or Dwight Howard. Look, I think there are plenty of straight-outta-high-school guys that could have benefited from a year or two of college—cough, Eddy Curry. But is it fair to make them go if they don’t want to? I say no.

Chris Paul caught on camera with the FAT stack to pay for food service. Looks like he could afford to buy po’ boys for the whole damn arena. And it seems that pretty much all the All-Stars are in the building, which is cool.

Bosh and his girl (who earlier in the season heckled Bron into killing the Raptors) are sitting next to Bron and Melo, who’s wearing what appears to be a lipstick red hooded leather jacket. No accounting for taste.

Boobie hits his eighth three (breaking the record), and welll, it looks like the MVP race is over. Also, maybe he can stop shooting threes now and let some other people get on the board.

Time passes. Make that eleven threes. Sheesh.

Karl Malone in the house. And Boobie misses a 30-footer. Gunning! By the end of the night he’s 11-20 from three (he didn’t take a single two) for 33 points in just over 21 minutes. And yes, he gets MVP. For taking a three a minute. High school coaches everywhere just buried their heads in their hands. Farmar had 17 points and 12 assists, Horford had 19 points (on 8-10 shooting) and 7 boards.

There’s some talk amongst the TNT crew about Bill Russell being from Louisiana, and how it was his 74th birthday earlier this week. This leads into how he was Kenny’s coach on the Kings. “He drafted me into the League, taught me a lot about life,” Jet says. Barkley needles him about getting Russell fired. “No,” Kenny finally says, “Reggie Theus did that.” Ouch! Hope TNT does a Sacramento game soon!

Final score, sophs 136, rookies 109. For complete stats, check here.

UPDATE: Posted a little something on the rookie/soph kicks over on the KING site.

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  • Azz01


  • http://coco-vents.blogspot.com Co Co

    The same thing went through my mind when LeBron hijacked Boobie’s interview. And by the way, I refuse to call a grown a** man Boobie for real.

  • http://kb24.com Bigi


  • http://slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    Before I even read this, Russ, I love how you open this by pretending to be all cranky and cynical about the game. I know you love it all! hahahaha

  • http://slamonline.com Holly MacKenzie

    OHHH man. I feel as though you stole my notes I had typed while watching. haha First off, Sager’s outfit made me look twice. He chooses the All-Star weekend to start being subdued? Whats with that? AL HORFORD!! Not sure if you got my messages about this kid, but, I LOVE him. I have been thinking all season he has earned the ROY, but, everyone loves Durant. I’m so over that. I am 100% with Charles in that if I had to draft someone from that draft (keeping Oden out of the scenario for now), it would most definitely be Horford for me. His announcing was great too. He’s a showman. Durant’s shoes were disgusting and looked radioactive. He also dribbled waaaaay too much and took too many jumpers. I still like him, but, come on KD! It was nice to see Malone, although it immediately made me wonder where Kobe and Vanessa were! Farmar was great and shone while not trying (read: NOT attempting 20 threes!). Horford was great as well. Sean Williams and his headband drives me crazy. It looks like it is just going to slip right off of his head. I wanted to push it down so badly. It would be really funny if Gibson went ice-cold during the three-point comp tomorrow. haha I think he will prob pick up where he left off, and I can’t wait to get tomorrow night underway. Whooo this was lonngg.. Thanks for the notes, Russ!

  • http://www.yahoo.com Michael NZ

    Durant is a ball-stopper!! Man they, well mainly CB, were a little down on Durant huh? Russ: a shade harsh on LeBron perhaps? Come on, he was just feeling his Boobie. 11 threes! And Bosh can surely do better than that.

  • http://www.lineofthenight.com Shannon Booher

    Charles lost his damn mind though, with Durant not even making his top 3… Jianlian over KD as the franchise? It was funny… when he first started his rant, I think Durant scored, dished, rebounded and stole all it once, and Barkley still didn’t acknowledge his versatility.

  • http://whitehoteboysworld.blogspot.com white hot eboy

    Swat’s dunk off the backboard was hot. Toss almost went over the top, too. Nice.

  • The Best Yet

    Shannon, Durant sucks. He’s a decent offensive player, but has much to learn.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I’ll take Horford, Durant and Roy in no particular order and not look back. No doubt KD has much to learn (and much time to spend in weight rooms), but he’s going to be special.

  • http://www.ihtraptors.blogspot.com coach

    lebron was feeling his Bobbie alright but the james was feeling CB4′s gf’s boobies w/c were positioned next to him a lot more !

  • http://rovingpanda.wordpress.com/ Wilford Brimley

    Did you see The Mailman invade Inside and force Charles to apologize for making fun of his draft day suit? That made my night.

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    The Attack of Karl Malone was definitely the highlight of the night, besides Kenny throwing Reggie Theus under the bus and Ernie IMMEDIATELY calling him on it.

  • A.I. Is Legend

    If Sean Williams touched the ball more offense, we would be talking about how he should be in the dunk contest. Oh yeah, and who was he giving the finger to as everyone was shaking hands at the end of the game? It must have been Roy for trying to Tea Bag him.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    lololol Chess King…wow!

  • http://www.mybleedingfingertips.blogspot.com/ Myles Brown

    I just loved when Wade caught feelings and left the arena after Chuck started killing his squad. Somebodys not gonna be in somebodys Fav 5 tomorrow.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    He stole my game notes too! Well, probably not, but I’d like to think so.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    I have the transcript of the TNT crew on my site, but Russ mos def did a nice job of describing the game. You could actually see the game through his eyes.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    With all due respect to good ol’ Ruus, but Tillery, are you serious? Sarcasm I hope?

  • http://kayceonline.com/blog/category/basketball-related/ Kevin

    I’d take Horford, Sean Williams & Roy, not in that order.. and i don’t blame Chuck for harping on Horford all night either, Horford was my already ROY about 20 games ago..

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    From a media eye? Damn right.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    You did a good job too on your blog. It’s all up to interpretation.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    thanks man. I appreciate that. Again, not to hate on Russ, but there is a sense of negativity in his game report, and although he might be right this is not that the right way to play the game, it’s all good fun. We should all just enjoy the game for what it is. And you’re right, it’s all up to interpretation.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    Russ!! I can’t believe you didn’t note the interview with Wade talking about the survival packs he was giving out to families in NO and then after the interview how Chuck asked if the survival pack had a power forward or center in it because that is what Wade really needs. Funny ish! Somehow Wade heard him and went over to Chuck while they were live a asked “how you gonna call me out like that?” Chuck is the best.

  • vmcb

    i like rondo’s shoes

  • http://fjsdklf.com Jukai

    I really thank all this Horford love is sorta misleading. The guy’s a one trick pony (rebounds) with Durant having better or almost better stats in every catagory. Hell, Hortford ain’t even shooting over 50%, and that guy’s a pure paint player. It’s ridiculously unfair to compare team records when taking rookie rankings into account– BAD TEAMS pick the better players. That’s the point of the lottery. Shouldn’t Glen Davis be the ROY if it was all about team records?

  • Mike

    Anybody know where I can find a clip of B-Roy’s near-dunk on Sean Williams? They shoul’ve replayed it at least once during the game…BTW Kevin Durant cant pass for s**t

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    TAD: Completely missed the Wade interview. Was that during halftime?

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    Gerard: I’m sick as a dog (not that I’m usuing at an excuse) and the rookie/soph game is always terrible from a basketball perspective. Besides, I’m a columnist, not a PR person. Just because the NBA’s stuffing something down my throat doesn’t mean I have to smile and ask for more. P.S. If you didn’t like this, please don’t read anything I write tonight, either. My name’ll be right in the dek so you’ll know which pieces to skip.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    Actually Russ, the interview happened right before the start of the 2nd half. I just realized you noted how you missed the 2nd half start.

  • http://tadone.blogspot.com TADOne

    Russ playing thru being sick. I actually agree that the Rook/Soph game was pretty underwhelming.

  • http://www.clutchfans.net nick

    This game needed way more Luis Scola. WAY more.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    whoa Russ, calm down man. Don’t act like I’m always being an a$$ to you or something. It’s not like I dislike every article you ever wrote, and I’ve been reading your articles here and in SLAM for years. I just disagreed with the guy who said that you “could see this game through your eyes”.

  • http://thestartingfive.net Michael Tillery

    Damn the guy?..joking Gerald…I’m sick too Russ. Glad I stayed up top. Would have been heated if I was sick down in NO. Here’s the transcript Russ:

  • http://slamonline.com Russ Bengtson

    I never said that. I was just warning you that there’s probably going to be ‘a sense of negativity’ in my notes from tonight as well, and if you didn’t like this piece you probably shouldn’t read that one. It’s not like I said ‘don’t ever comment on one of my pieces again.’ Say whatever you want.

  • http://www.another48minutes.blogspot.com Gerard Himself

    Whatever I want? Fine. Maximus Sczksnsfnbiak.

  • boobie_gibson