An Evening with League Pass

by Marcel Mutoni

Let’s do this…

Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards

-It’s nice to see Speedy Claxton back in action. He drops a silly dime in the first quarter, threading the needle to a cutting Shelden Williams. I’m a big fan of Shelden’s facial hair, by the way.

-Hey, it’s new SLAMonline columnist Etan Thomas! I’m keeping a close eye on his interactions with the refs tonight.

-Is there any room left on the Joe Johnson-for-MVP bandwagon? Just asking.

(This has nothing to do with basketball, but I feel like sharing: I sat next to a highly decorated army dude on the bus today–not BALLLLLLLLING–who absolutely reeked of booze. He was clearly on his way home from a long day at work. This brightened up an otherwise miserable day for me. The Canadian military is awesome! OK, where was I? Right. League Pass…)

-You may not realize this, but Josh Smith has one of the nastiest first steps in the entire league. Dude covers an unbelievable amount of ground with his first dribble.

-Speaking of J-Smoove, for a guy who’s allegedly improved his jump shot, I’m not too convinced. He looks uncomfortable taking outside jumpers and a quick peek at his stats (38% FG before tonight’s game) confirms my suspicions.

-Salim Stoudamire is filthy. I just wish Atlanta’s braintrust would recognize this and let him live a little.

-Are we absolutely positive that Ty Lue isn’t in high school anymore? I think I saw him take off his varsity jacket when he entered the locker room.

-I just found out that someone by the name of Matt Freije exists. He needs to find his way to a tanning booth. Real fast.

-Defense is not really a concern in this one; the score with over 5 minutes to go in the first half is 42-41 in favor of the Wiz.

-Sean May looks he swallowed another human being. Has anyone seen Brevin Knight lately?

-The waves in Joe Johnson’s hair are making me a little dizzy. For once I wish I hadn’t sprung for an HDTV.

-James Lang enters the game for the Wiz, and the TV announcer informs us that Lang is listed at 321 pounds. However, the graphic under his name lists him at 283. I think James has a friend inside the studio.

(Switching gears: Let’s peek into the Bobcats-Nets game)

Charlotte Bobcats at New Jersey Nets

-Sam is at this game. I’ll do my best to find him. Maybe he’ll appear on the kiss-cam; that would be beyond hilarious.

-This will be my first time experiencing Morrison and his glorious porn ‘stache, and I can barely contain my excitement. The fact that he chews tobacco after games is one of the most delightful facts of the early season (and maybe ever).

-Random Prediction Time! After watching him on a couple of possessions, I can say this with absolute confidence: Adam Morrison will never win Defensive Player of the Year. In fact, he’ll never make it onto ANY all-defense team. I think he’s allergic to defense.

-If he were to lose a bit of weight and shave off the porn ‘stache, Adam Morrison would automatically transform into Jim Morrison of The Doors. If this NBA thing doesn’t work out, at least he’s got a career in celebrity impersonation to fall back on.

-Is there a more athletic matchup than Vince vs. G-Wallace? Probably not.

-Vince has Okafor guarding him on a switch and absolutely shatters his ankles with a jab step, before taking it to the cup where he’s rewarded with two freebies. That was just unfair.

-Lil’ Lawrence Frank should probably invest in a fashion consultant. He’s rocking the baby blue tie with a brown suit and a beige shirt. Not a good look, coach. Couldn’t Jigga work something out with his fashion people?

-Morrison is savvy. He is crafty. One day, he will be considered a crafty veteran with a lot of savvy. Yup.

-Marcus Williams may be nice as hell with his, but he’s no J-Kidd. He just bungled an alley-oop connection with Vince that I’m certain would’ve been all over the highlight shows if Kidd had been on the floor in Williams’ place.

(Quick break to watch a bit of Entourage: Where does Ari Gold’s character rank in the pantheon of great TV characters? I’m not certain, but it’s a lot higher than Vincent Chase’s ranking.)

-Good to see Vince (the ballplayer, not the stiff TV character) attacking the cup today. He’s already attempted 7 free throws and there are 6 minutes left in the first half. Hope I didn’t jinx things with that last line.

-I hate Nenad Krstic’s last name. Seriously, would it have killed his parents to buy a freaking vowel?

-WOW. RJ just ruined a Net fast break in the ugliest way possible. He faked a pass to Kidd, and ended up being wide open for a layup, but decided to get fancy by passing to a bewildered (and trailing) Mikki Moore who couldn’t handle the feed. The ‘Cats go the other way and get to the line. The fans start booing, and I can’t blame them. Just a stunning chain of events.

-At the half, the ‘Cats lead 59-49.

Back to the Hawks vs. Wizards

-OK, back to the action in Washington. Five minutes to go in the game, and the Wiz are up by two. This is a good one.

-Are we sure Josh Smith is actually human? I swear, he literally just flew to snatch an offensive board over a helpless Jamison.

-Joe Johnson ties things up with a silky jumper. 33 for the man with the Mase-like waves. Three minutes to go.

-Terrible post entry pass by Gilbert leading to a turnover.

-I guess Pachulia felt bad for Gilbert, because he travels on the very next possession to make him feel better. Thoughtful guy, that ZaZa.

-Caron scores one and the foul; Lue puts on his clutch-cape and answers with a jumper of his own. Wiz up one.

-Gilbert gets called for his second straight offensive foul as he shoves the pesty Lue with his right forearm. Timeout Wiz; they’re up one with 38 seconds to go. Exciting, no?

-Mad scramble for the ball after a J-Smoove errant three (told ya he couldn’t shoot), but the Hawks end up with the rock with 10 seconds to go. Wizards are clinging to a one point lead. Money time.

-Joe Johnson steps back and …misses the potential game winner. I assume he’s gonna go buy more hair pomade to make himself feel better.

Back to the Bobcats vs Nets

-We join this baby late in the fourth.

-Four minutes to go, Bobcats lead by five.

-Morrison travels while being guarded by J-Kidd, and Kidd lets him know all about it. Morrison responds by spitting a wad of tobacco chew in Kidd’s face. Oh alright, that didn’t happen, but it would have been great if it did.

-Kidd finds RJ on the break for an easy score. 88-85 ‘Cats with three minutes and change remaining.

-Ason misses a long j, and Krstic fouls Brezec over the back going for the board.

-Brezec hits a freebie to make it 92-87 ‘Cats.

-Okafor sends RJ’s shot and Lil’ Lawrence Frank calls a timeout. Good idea, coach.

-Brevin Knight takes a horrendous shot on a drive with under 30 seconds to go, and the Nets come down with the board with a chance to tie things up. It would be a minor miracle if they pulled it off.

-Vince misses the long three with 10 seconds left, and it’s fouling time. Game over.

New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls

-The Bulls are finally back on their homecourt after a seemingly interminable road trip. Any chance they’ll lose tonight? I doubt it.

-I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and you know what, I would probably give up a full year’s salary to watch Scott Skiles and Ben Wallace duke it out in the Octagon. Let’s make this happen, guys.

(I’m also keeping an eye on the T-Wolves/Rockets game to see how KG is dealing with things. After last night’s heartbreaker in Dallas, he looked about ready to commit murder. I wouldn’t have been surprised if he punched a ball boy in the face as he stalked off the court muttering expletives to himself. Why he has yet to force a trade out of Minny, I’ll never understand.)

-Looks like headband-gate is over; Big Ben’s dome is naked. The rest of his body, mercifully, is not.

-Holy crap, Renaldo Balkman is starting!!! I feel as though a small part of me has just died. Now, my gmail inbox is going to be flooded in a few hours with taunts. Greeeeaaat. Thanks Isiah!

-Ben Wallace makes an unbelievable hustle play where he outworks Eddy Curry (surprise!) for three boards off his own misses, and gets the hoop on a reverse layup. Didn’t another Bull used to famously tip rebounds to himself a few years ago?

-I don’t know what the hell is wrong with Stephon, but it’s as if he’s forgotten how to play basketball. Weird.

-Jerome James takes a swipe at Big Ben after getting his shot sent. Maybe Jerome’s mad because Ben ate all of the twinkies before the game.

-Speaking of Jerome, I think he’s one of the few guys whose shooting the new ball can’t save. You see, Jerome, to take advantage of the friendly bounce, you gotta hit the rim. Unfair, I know.

-Hinrich has a nice crossover on Marbury as the first quarter comes to an end, but can’t knock down the j. Shame.

(Quick flip to the Rockets/Wolves game, and I walk into a conversation between the Rocket announcers in which they claim that there’s no way they could speak Chinese as well as Yao speaks English. Um, sure, whatever you say guys.)

-It’s 36-31 in favor of Houston at the half. Low scores probably excite Jeff Van Gundy more than strippers do.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets

-Why the hell not?

(By the way, League Pass is that crack!!!)

-Rockets up nine with 2 minutes to go in the third.

-Stats after three quarters: KG (16pts, 11rbs); Yao (20pts, 8rbs); T-Mac (only 6 points, but he does have 6 assists); Battier is the only other Rocket in double figures with 11; and Garnett is the only Wolf with more than 10 points.

-Luther Head gets Craig Smith in a headlock. Somehow, Smith (6-7, 250 lbs) doesn’t kill Luther (6-3, 185 lbs.)

-Randy Foye, after crossing up Luther, sticks his knee in Yao’s chest and lays one in. Illegal, but nice.

-Foye looks like he’s trying to take this thing over. He knocks down a three. He now has 9 points.

-Troy Hudson and his frightening ponytail knock down a long three off a KG feed.

-Drama: After an easy Yao basket, KG explodes and starts yelling and angrily gesturing towards his own bench! The man is not amused.

-Garnett comes down the floor and promptly scores over three Rocket defenders. This could get interesting.

-Foye brings Minny within 1 and the Rockets call for time. He’s hit 14 of his last 17 shot attempts in the fourth over the last three games. Impressive.

-Why do I get the feeling that Minny is headed toward another heart breaker? How much more can Garnett take before he goes loco?

(Just checked the Yahoo! sports ticker, and ‘Melo has 24 points–on 11 of 16 shooting–early in the third quarter against the Grizzlies. Scoring is easier than breathing for him this year.)

-Yao is having a big game. He’s hit 11 of 15 from the field.

-Houston goes up by seven with 2 minutes to go after Battier and Rafer triples.

-I think I’ve seen this movie before.

-I don’t think the Wolves are coming back in this one; it’s 81-72 with a minute to go.

-Yup, another loss for Minny. Next up is Melo and the Nuggets. Good luck with that.

Back to the Knicks-Bulls game

-Here are my favorite little guys so far this year (in no particular order): Randy Foye, Monta Ellis, Ronnie Price, and Nate Robinson.

-Alright, I’ll admit it, maybe it’s not such a bright idea to watch four games at once. Need Tylenol. Extra Strength.

-Ben is blocking everything in sight. He just pinned Curry’s shot off the glass. Mean.

-The Knicks have a one point lead with two minutes to go before the half.

(The Best Damn Sports Show Period–aka The Needlessly Long-Titled Sports Talk Show featuring John Salley and Some Other C-list Celebs–is counting down some of the 50 most spectacular dunks in history. Color me intrigued. The Knicks and the Bulls can wait.

Below is the BDSSP’s top 10:

#10: C-Webb on Barkley in the ’94 playoffs.

#9: Baron on Jermaine O’neal a few years back. I love the call in this one, “That’s on your family!” Hilarious.

#8: Starks on MJ and Ho Grant in the ’93 ECF. Phenomenal moment.

#7: Kobe on Ben Wallace. I think Kobe was a rookie at the time. Chick Hearn makes a great call, and the Laker bench lose their minds. Great stuff.

#6: Tom Chambers knees Mark Jackson in the face before posterizing him. The contact actually pushes Chambers higher before dunking with his head at rim level. Disgusting.

#5: Doc on Coop in the ’84 season. The famous Rock-a-baby.

#4: Kemp on Lister: The Lister Blister.

#3: Jerome Lane shatters the backboard in college (he was playing for Pitt) while dunking all over the defender. UNBELIEVABLE.

#2: Jordan on Ewing at The Garden after eluding Starks and Oakley. He practically threw his whole arm into the basket on that one.

#1: Vince in the Olympics over Freddy Weis. Greatest thing I’ve ever seen; it’s not even close. Take it away Doug Collins: “He jumped OVER…his HEAD!”

Overall, not a bad top 10. I still hate the show’s name, though.)

-Yay, back to New York Knick basketball! Feel the excitement!!!

-Bulls up four with six minutes remaining in the fourth.

-Renaldo is having a solid game (6 points and 5 boards). I wonder if he knows about the blog. These are the things that keep me up at night.

-Leading scorers are Curry and Gordon with 22 apiece so far.

-PJ Brown (!) resurrects himself and tips in an errant Gordon triple. Bulls up 10.

-I’ll say it again: Stephon has forgotten how to play basketball. He’s getting handcuffed by Hinrich! What in the world is going on?

-Luol Deng is also having himself a game (12 and 9). Johnny “Red” Kerr, the famous Bulls’ broadcaster, said before the game that Deng will be a superstar in this League someday. Ah, gotta love homerism.

-After Hinrich hits a nifty runner in the lane (plus the foul), Crawford turns it over once again after trying to go one on five, and Kerr sums things up nicely for the Knicks: “The wheels are falling off!”

-Any minute now, we’ll be getting the obligatory shot of a devastated Isiah on the bench.

-Thank you!

And with that, I’m out. I think my eyes are bleeding. This was fun.