Bittersweet 16

By Jake Appleman

1) Dallas Mavericks: (Wrote this before last night) There’s really not much I can say other than to acknowledge my appreciation for how well this team is playing. And yes, I’m doing this because in a few paragraphs I will be illustrating my concern for their title chances.

2) STEP BUMP, STEP BUMP BUMP: Watch that. Personally, I think it was choreographed. But still…

3) Cool Whip: You can’t have pie without cool whip, and you can’t win a title without playing defense.

(Sidenote: Family Guy has been pretty inconsistent this season, but cutaways like that help it retain its must watch status.)

4) “Max’s Airington’s” blog: Most of you know “Max Airington” as one of our most prolific commenters. Did more than a handful of you know that he know has his own blog?

For instance: I would have probably ranted about Jason Whitlock—I heard he eats babies—which would have been like spraying a forest fire with Pennzoil. Thankfully, with “Max” being on point here (and here), saying what needs to be said, I can let the pot simmer and enjoy his perspective while resisting the temptation to boil over as I go after another writer. MA’s blog proves that his fingertips are, in fact, caked with blood. You can’t touch Scarlett with those mitts. Better wear gloves, dude.

5) Bill Rafferty in March: I don’t have the broadcast pairings schedule in front of me. But know that I just pray that I’m at home for at least one or two of Raff’s early round games, preferably an exciting upset. Dear God, please let Bill Rafferty broadcast a Wright State game winning bank shot! “VAUGHN DUGGINS….WITH THE KISS!”

6) Maui Fever: I watched the season finale this Sunday. This spoiled surfer boy, “C” student with feelings, high school drama reality shit is addictive. Shane, what the hell is wrong with you? You get to choose between a steak and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and you choose the PB&J?!?!?! I’d say more, but if Sam hasn’t seen it, I’m spoiling. I’ve already done enough unnecessary objectifying of barely legal females as it is…

7) Ohio State: As my esteemed colleague, Ryan Jones, likes to point out: They just seem too young to go all the way this year. And it’s unsettling how many open jumpers their supporting cast misses. You have to knock those shots down in the big dance. And Daequon Cook, who I interviewed for SLAM 97, has yet to truly impress me. After four years spent in Ohio, you can bet I’ll be rooting for them. I’m just going to proceed with caution. Worst case scenario: They got bounced early, Oden comes back and freshmen-to-be Kosta Kofous and Jon Diebler add those shot-making components next year. If they retain a full squad going into next season, anything less than a title will be a SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXAPILA-DISAPPOINTMENT.

8) The Mavs winning the title: I’m 50/50 on them right now for a few reasons:

1) Mettle (sounds corny, but hear me out): Is this a group of guys that will grow stronger as a series grows on, or will their season’s first true frustration—I’m discounting November—break their will? Add the strain of last season’s disappointment and you’ve got one hell of a pressure cooker in Big D.
2) History: The 05-06 Pistons. The regular season means nothing.
3) Unproven: Aside from nearly blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Spurs before escaping in overtime of Game 7 last year, they haven’t shown that they can beat a team that is close to their level.
4) Phoenix and San Antonio: Whoever Dallas faces in the conference finals will give them a run for their money.

In Sum: I’m not saying they can’t win the title this season. I’m just skeptical.

9) The CRS: So I’m at a diner with a friend this past Sunday and we look at the menu and, not only is it all in baby talk (potaties, tomaties, etc) and cheesy rhymes, but they were actually offering a “Cock Robin Sandwich”: Grilled Chicken, Bacon and some other stuff. So there you go. As somebody who knows somebody that insists on consistently telling everybody he knows to go eat that sandwich (without the Robin), I had to bring this up.

10) Oatmeal: I’ve started eating it for breakfast every morning because I get up too early to cook. It’s pretty lumpy and it’s pretty tough to pour the right amount of water, especially if you pour boiling hot water as I do: With both eyes still closed. But Oatmeal, unremarkably and inexpensively, gets the job done and it makes meals taste better throughout the day. Is there an NBA player that inexpensively and unremarkably gets his job done while making his teammates better? Here are the leading candidates for the oatmeal nickname:

Kirk Hinrich, Thabo Sefolosha, David Lee, Tayshaun Prince, Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap, Luke Walton and Raja Bell. Honestly, purely from a nicknaming standpoint, I like Thabo “Oatmeal” Sefolosha the best, but Tayshaun Prince’s face sort of looks like oatmeal. As far as game and salaries are concerned, Walton and Lee are both highly qualified.

That said, the oatmeal nickname is still temporarily up for grabs. So have at it in the comments.

11) Isiah’s contract extension: I’m not going to discount the fact that Zeke has done a serviceable job thus far. But couldn’t they have at least waited until 60 million came off the cap (basically, an entire franchise $ worth of players that don’t even play for the team anymore) at the end of the season before giving him what might simply be a mediocrity-perpetuating financial pat on the back?

(Sidenote: If you were wondering if I was trying to send a message by ranking Isiah’s contract extension after oatmeal, the answer is a blatant YES–but don’t misconstrue this as a direct knock on Zeke.

I mean, I might eat oatmeal till late April, but that doesn’t mean if I have the maneuverability, time and the money to go for pancakes next year, I should forsake pancakes because I feel like I owe oatmeal for improving my life over the past few months. Nothing against Isiah, but damn, James Dolan, your itchy trigger finger seems to have been bitten by a few thirsty mosquitos.)

12) Oden/Durant talk: Just stop bombarding us with it already. Some of it is warranted, but it has started to—inevitably, I suppose—go too far. Yes, they’re two of the most talented players college ball has ever seen. And yeah, I know it’s March, but imagine how suffocating it’s going to feel as we near the draft eligibility date, and then the draft?

I feel like the guy that orders that pork chop, only to have the waitress bring him a pork chop that’s half pork and half fat. This hurts the sidedish (we’ll go with applesauce for appropriate reasons) because you run out of real estate for dipping. Thus, the remaining applesauce goes nowhere, a puree of motionless waste. And there you are, basketball fan in your chair at Metaphor: The Restaurant, afraid of the calorific remains, looking at your half eaten plate of food, like, “yeah, so?”

Chances are, I may have just completely lost you. If so, just know this: Part of my fear is that one of them might not live up to their potential. Hard to imagine, I know, but you and I both know that if either of them doesn’t live up to the hype we’re going to feel like basketball owes us back conversations. I’m just a cynic like that.

13) The Difference between being “good” and being “well”: Since I currently spend most of my time in a corporate environment, I have the “Hello, how are you doing?” 7 second pass-by convo about 49,421 times a day. Gaining this pointless social experience has taught me something about reading people: If you’re talking to somebody who isn’t high on proper etiquette—somebody whose vocal tone will usually indicate how they’re doing—and they tell you that they’re doing “well”, they’re probably lying. If they were actually doing well, they’d say they were “good.” They’re most likely doing horribly. And unless you feel safe telling them where they can order a cock robin sandwich, you should probably just leave them to their misery.

14) 50/Cam beef: This isn’t beef. This is vegan. This is sprout covered tempeh slathered in soy mayonnaise. Only one personal positive is going to come of this: This spring when I go to shoot around with my friends—a basketball, not a gun; given the subject matter and debate that raged after all-star weekend, I figured it was worth clarifying— after made shots I’ll be calling for “courtesy” in the “CURTIS!” voice.

15) Bracketology: It’s not a science. It’s a joke. Fill out your brackets, but don’t listen to the “experts”; if they had any idea what the hell they were talking about, they would have fled to Vegas with their secrets already. I imagine that the ESPN college gameday crew, though often knowledgeable, must feel like they’re cramming for too many mid-terms when they prep for this stuff. I.E., they learn/get told everything they can possibly fit into their brains during prep, and then they have a tiny amount of time to formulate an opinion and stick with it. The truth is, it’s just educated guessing where the “educated” only knows a little bit more than the moron. Just remember that when the blind foreigner wins your office pool.

16) The Indiana Pacers: This has become a topsy turvey world that allows people—REAL PEOPLE—to question whether or not Rick Carlisle and Lawrence Frank are good coaches. I still say both a quality coaches, but still…these guys were two of the young and chosen few that had league-wide respect. Now? Eish… I really hope Indiana’s freefall allows both the Nets and the Knicks sneak into the playoffs. If this actually happens, I will (hopefully) be bouncing like a pinball between both sites, ROVING…ROVING…ROVING.

At least for about four days. Four days? Hmm…With March Madness starting up while I work a full-time job, that’s about how long it’s going to take before I can start breathing normally again.