Thursday, August 2, 2007

Garnett and Culpepper Are Just NAMES

Ray Ratto was a scrub wrestler from the 1980’s. I remember him submitting in the Billy Jack Haynes full nelson in about 4 seconds. Okay just kidding, he’s a columnist at CBS, where I have never read a single decent column but feel the need to keep going back because it’s so terrible. Ray Ratto just sounds like a scrub wrestler name. His latest work, "K.G.? Daunte? NAMES will always fool us", is about how we shouldn’t get all riled up about NAMES. Because NAMES don’t mean anything and are over-rated.

Daunte Culpepper isn't likely to save the Oakland Raiders from another hard year.

Well, duh, he’s sucked or has been injured the last couple of years. He’s a huge question mark and is effectively a place holder for JaMarcus Russell. Plus, it’s football, and one guy doesn’t mean that much to a teams success, unlike basketball.

And Kevin Garnett won't make the Boston Celtics a title contender in the Eastern Conference.


Well, not alone. But he and Ray Allen combined with Paul Pierce immediately creates a pretty formidable line-up that everyone besides you thinks will challenge for the Eastern Conference. But I’m sure you have some good, sound, reasoned support for this logic.

But they are NAMES, and we love NAMES. NAMES have done great things in the past, or looked like they were going to. They make their new teams intriguing because their NAMES are attached to them.

Good god, this is unreadable.

We ask too much of them, though. We always do.

I see.

Garnett's trade to Boston in exchange for several itinerant Celtics and a four-year extension on his elephantine contract made the Celtics an Eastern Conference power again, after the lost 15 years of the post-Bird Era. That is, if you believed the drooly hysteria you read and heard over the last week.

Or if you have a passing knowledge of Kevin Garnett’s current ability and the relative competition in the Eastern Conference. Also, itinerant means nomadic. So they are…nomadic players? Like Al Jefferson, Gerald Green and draft picks?

But there is a lot more drool than truth here, because Garnett comes to a team with two other $20 million/per players (Paul Pierce, Ray Allen) around him, and a glorified D-League cornucopia after that. The Celtics were the worst team in the East last year, yet nobody asked to show how Garnett is suddenly worth 40 wins, except to say, "It's the East."

No one with a brain is saying he’s worth 40 wins. The biggest improvement ever was a Spurs team that added Tim Duncan and David Robinson coming back from injury (played 6 games the year before). You just made this up to refute it as stupid. I fucking hate that.

Paul Pierce only played in 47 games last year. Had he played 82 games, and the Celtics won the same % of games that they won in the games he played, they would have won like 35 games. Not good, but much better than 24 wins. I think, in effect, that many people are saying that Garnett and Ray Allen will result in about a 15-20 win improvement (on the 35 wins). But anything can happen in the playoffs.

Neither Paul Pierce or Ray Allen made $20 million last year. I don’t know their upcoming salaries but they’d need pretty good size raises to reach $20 million.

And nobody tries to explain how the Celtics are suddenly the equal of the Pistons, Heat, Bulls or Wizards, because they can't. Not with a straight face, anyway. They are, at best, scrambling to get to that second rung on the Eastern stepstool, the kind of team that wins 39 games and is in the hunt for a playoff berth until the end.

No one is delusional and thinks that three guys who have not played together will instantly gel into a 65 win team. But, if healthy, they seem to have the type of game and personality that would mesh pretty well together. Remember how well the Timberwolves did with Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell? Well, that’s what people are thinking, but in a weaker conference and with better stars than Cassell and Sprewell. You think they are a 39 win team, not nearly as good as the Wizards. I see. How many games did the Wizards win last year? 41. Makes sense, let’s move on!

But Garnett is a NAME, surrounded by two other NAMES in Allen and Pierce, and so those who don't say they can win the conference say that they are "relevant" again, which is a keen word that in this context means "OK, I'll watch 'em if I don't have anything better to do."

That’s not what relevant means. That’s what relative indifference means. Relevant means I’ll try to watch them, frequently. Also, you’re using keen like a word that means the exact opposite. Like nebulous. But you’re the writer and I’m internet columnist reader guy.

You see, while Garnett was and is a sensational player, he is once again surrounded by substandard support (and no, we are not speaking of Pierce and Allen as support, but the other nine players, if they can afford that many), plus he is working for a general manager and coach (Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers) who are probably holding their jobs by their teeth. This actually looks worse the longer you look at it, but we love stars, and Kevin Garnett is a star. Better, he is a NAME, and we think NAMES can solve any problem, even this one.

Why can’t we speak of Pierce and Allen as support? You need, like 2-3 stars, 3-4 functional players and a couple of serviceable guys who aren’t total fuckups to have a good basketball team. Are they deep? No, of course not. But most teams really aren’t either.

If Ainge and Rivers are barely holding onto their jobs, won’t that increase the pressure to win, now? How is that fact, in and of itself, bad for the Celtics performance in ’07-08? I say “in and of itself” because you do still have Doc Rivers coaching the team, and that’s not good.

So good luck on that one.

As for Culpepper, he has signed a one-year deal to rent in Oakland, who have been the Celtics of football for the last few years. Culpepper is a NAME, too, even though he was hurt all of 2005 and had a terrible experience with Nick Saban in Miami in '06. He is coming to a team that doesn't have equivalents for Paul Pierce or Ray Allen, one which managed last year to perform the extraordinary feat of finishing 12 games behind its division leader in a 16-game schedule. If anything, the Raiders of '06 were worse at what they did than the '07 Celtics were at what they did.

Right, I agree, these are two situations that are totally incomparable and it would be a waste of everyone’s time to compare them.

And unlike the Celtics, who are now married to Garnett for years to come, Culpepper goes to the Raiders as a layover until a better destination comes along next year.

Also, basketball is played on hardwood, and football is played on a big field. In addition, if you tried playing basketball with a football you would be very frustrated when dribbling, but outlet passes would rock.

He has superficial comparison points to unsigned draft choice JaMarcus Russell, and he could serve as a starter and mentor (or backup and mentor, if the Raiders want to irritate the hell out of him), but our interest is strictly based on Culpepper being a NAME.

What do you want fans to do? They are simply tracking the news. Big name players, and players who were once really good, is generally news. No one thinks this means that the Raiders will be winning the Super Bowl.

He once led the Vikings to a 15-1 record, then without Randy Moss (who preceded him in Oakland and essentially removed himself from the Hall of Fame as a result) faded, was catastrophically injured, and served as his own agent to get a flexible deal that would put him back on the market next year.

So more on why the situations are incomparable, then you drop the comparison on us. NAME! Wham! Brilliant!

This, then, doesn't sound like anything other than two sides in a jam who happened to have what the other side wanted, and much less a matter of the Raiders wanting another NAME from that mythical Viking team nobody remembers anyway.

Um, yeah. Insightful! Let’s just look at your picture instead of parsing this mess.

New GGAS policy, no pictures of Ray Ratto.

Still, it has our interest because Culpepper is, in fact, still a NAME, and everyone is still a sucker for a NAME.

Culpepper really doesn’t have our interest, or at least mine. The Garnett situation does, because he’s been an awesome player for a long time and him going to the Celtics with Pierce and Allen is interesting to basketball fans. What, you goofy looking bastard, is so bad about that?

In fact, you know who else is a NAME? Michael Vick. But that's another story, or stories, for other times.

So, what are we as fans supposed to do? Not care about the NAMES? I don’t get the point? Write a fucking story about Jeff Suppan or Udonis Haslem if you don’t care about NAMES.



Matthew said...

2007-08 salaries:
Pierce, $16.4M
Allen, $16.0M

Jeff said...

I knew they were $15-16 million range. I guess rounding up to the nearest $5 million mark is acceptable.

I make $5 million a year.

Anonymous said...

Aw, no blasting Mr. Ratto on the fact that Randall Cunningham, not Daunte Culpepper was the QB that lead the Vikings to a 15-1 record in 1998?

Jeff said...

Anon - A miss on my part. A reader (Richard) sent me an e-mail on it and I was going to include as an addendum or new post but you beat me to it.

There's a reason why there's no NFL columns on this site - I'm MLB/NBA focused. Although I should have picked that up because I remember Randall's resurgence with the Vikings. But I glazed over the Culpepper stuff.