Monday, May 18, 2009

Orlando Magic Win, Larry Bird Sucks

If you’re a fan of the NBA, as I am, then you no doubt saw the impressive performance by the Orlando Magic against the Boston Celtics in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals on Sunday night. They won going away, and even when the Celtics could pull within 4 or 5, you knew the Magic would respond to push the lead back up to 10+. The most amazing part was the relative ineffectiveness of the Celtics “Big 7” composed of Larry Bird, Kevin Mchale, Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, John Havlicek, Kevin Garnett, and Dave Cowens. I mean…..where were those guys? I thought they were all long since retired (or sidelined with an injury, in Garnett’s case), but after reading Mike Bianchi’s column in the Orlando Sentinel, they should have had the same impact on the game as they would have if they were 27 years old and wearing green and white.

Let’s take a look:

All that mystique turned into a mirage Sunday night.

I know right? Larry Bird? More like Larry Turd! Guy didn’t score a point.

All that Celtics history turned into Magic histrionics.

Because everyone knows that a team’s record in the 1960’s should directly impact the outcome of games played by players who weren’t born yet.

Also, histrionics means what, exactly, here? Acting in an overly (unnecessarily) dramatic fashion. Awesome!

That famed and acclaimed Celtics green faded to Magic blue. And white.

Because no one thought the Magic would win, right? No one. I mean, they only won 59 games!


Other than rhyming with white, what is this word’s function here?

This can't be true, can it?

Please tell me why, the fuck, anyone thought it couldn’t be?

Well, can it?

Well, tell me!

Did the Orlando Magic really just bury the storied Boston Celtics 101-82? Did they actually destroy the defending champions by 19 ... in Game 7 ... on Boston's home court?

Well, yes and no. The Celtics team that won the championship last year included James Posey, Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe suited up. So they didn’t beat that team. They beat a team that was clearly fucking exhausted and unable to get Ray Allen a clean look for like 5 games. The Paul Pierce who was the best player on the court against LA last year was relegated to flailing around looking for foul calls. Orlando was the better team, why are you writing this like they were underdogs? They really really weren’t. They have a bunch of good players. They have the All-NBA first team center and Defensive Player of the Year.

Mark this down as one of the greatest days in Orlando sports history. This is the night, the Magic, the resoundingly resilient Magic, ignored all of the Celtics legend and lore and started building their own legacy of triumph and tradition.

I know right, I totally expected the Celtics “legend and lore” to have an impact on this game, because I have an IQ of 32.

"This is about as big a win as you can have — for our organization and our team," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said.Hey, Shaq, do you still think Van Gundy is the "Master of Panic"? Or does he now qualify as the Patriarch of Pressure? Hey, Sports Illustrated, do you still think Dwight Howard smiles too much to lead the Magic to playoff success against the NBA's elite? Or has he finally proven you can grin — and win?

Slow down. Not to downplay the Magic’s win too much, but it’s the Eastern Semi’s. They have to at least get through Cleveland to dispel these assertions.

Did Sports Illustrated really imply that he smiles too much to win a championship? Really? I read the column, and that wasn't my takeaway.

Toppling a legacy

On this, the 20-year anniversary of their inception, the Magic vanquished the most dynamic, dynastic champion this league has ever known. The Celtics have won 17 NBA titles in their proud history, but the Magic's Big Three of Howard, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu had that look in their eyes like they aim to win their first.

I know that this is what sportswriters do, but this is maddening. When the Celtics beat the Bulls in the first round, it had not one goddamn thing to do with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, just like Orlando beating the Celtics had nothing to do with Boston's history. See, here’s the thing, it is history if you beat a historically good collection of basketball players, it's not history if you beat a franchise that has had a good history. Writers love to put up bullshit stats like “such and such a team has never lost a game 7 at home, or a series when they were up 3-1”. Those numbers are only relevant to the extent that they involve the actual players on the court.

The 2007-08, 2008-09 Celtics were absolutely not the most dynamic, dynastic champion the league has ever known. When teams beat the early 90's Yankee teams that weren't very good, I don't think they said...."Yeah, we overcame Ruth and Gehrig and Mantle and all that history!"

And, now, they are halfway home.

Eight wins from a championship.

Eh, only if you consider Cleveland and LA/Denver to be of the same caliber as Philly and Boston. You don’t, do you?

Bring on the Lebron James and the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers, who the Magic will play in the Eastern Conference finals beginning Wednesday in Cleveland. The Cavs have marched through two playoff series with a perfect 8-0 record, but the Magic have had their number. Orlando has beaten Cleveland in eight of the last 11 games dating back three-plus seasons.

If the Magic can dismantle the Celtics in this pressure-packed atmosphere, they can beat anybody, anytime. Before Sunday, the Celtics had been 17-3 at home in Game 7s. They had been 32-0 when leading a seven-game series 3-2 as they did after Game 5. And the Magic still buried them by throwing a Boston Three Party and draining 13-of-21 shots from three-point range.

See. Those numbers don’t matter, because they involve the Russell, Bird, or Havlicek era Celtics. This is not hard.

"I don't know too much about history," Howard said. "Sometimes, history is rewritten."

Dwight Howard should write for the Orlando Sentinel.

You've heard of the Magna Carta? In the history of Orlando sports, this victory will go down as the Magic Carta.


If there were any shadowy spirits or historic haunts hovering in Boston's arena Sunday night, the Magic played the role of Ghostbusters and exterminated them.

Historic haunts at the TD Banknorth Garden? Were they channeling the first ever Celtics team to play there, led by Rick Fox, Dino Radja and Dana Barros?

The Celtics leprechaun that supposedly sits on the backboard and blocks the opposition's shots? I think he ran in fear after one of Howard's rim-rattling power slams.

That’s probably 100% true. I don’t even remember seeing a leprechaun after Howard’s first dunk.

And that victory cigar that late, great Celtics coach Red Auerbach used to light up after big wins? The Magic snatched it from the Celtics' mouth and ground it into the dirt.

I’m confused by this, is he implying that the entire Celtics team were somehow planning to smoke a Cigar at the same time?


Forget about the recent release of the new Star Trek movie, which flashes back in time and chronicles the early days of Captain James T. Kirk and his fellow USS Enterprise crew members. Do you realize the Magic are flashing back in time, too, and are now reliving the days of Captain Shaq and his crew members who led the USS Amway into the Eastern Conference finals back in 1996?

Yes, let’s relive the 1996 Eastern Conference finals, when the Magic lost 4 straight to the Bulls by an average of 17 points per game.

Also…nice…..Star Trek…. tie in?!?!

The Boston Celtics may have looked into the rafters Sunday night and saw the retired jerseys of past legends Bill Russell, John Havlicek and Bob Cousy, but guess what?

Um, those guys are old and are no longer playing?

The Magic looked within themselves and found a vestige of their own past — a past of heart and hustle and hopes and dreams.

That’s really sweet.

The Orlando Magic — your Orlando Magic — buried the ghosts of Celtics past and now are poised to march into their own blazingly bright future.

Jesus, this guy should be a speechwriter or something. The Celtics were two shots away from losing this thing in 5 games.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Some Heroic Randomness

So between job, wife, baby and life I haven’t been able to read much online lately. When I do it’s usually financial news, given all that is going on. But I have been watching the NBA playoffs, and I had a few snippets I figured I’d throw up on the ‘ol blog.

This is from a recent column where Jemele Hill and Scoop Jackson answered some questions about the upcoming NBA playoffs.

Question: Which player is most likely to jump into the national spotlight and make fans think, "Damn, I didn't realize he was that good"?

Scoop Jackson: John Salmons of the Chicago Bulls. Being in Chi-town, I've been lucky enough to watch this dude light up teams ever since the trade that brought him here in February. While some players are straight slept on, this cat was hibernated on by everyone except his family members and probably some ex-girlfriends. He can flat-out ball! Now I know he's barely played in the playoffs before, and it's a whole other level of comp and intensity. But from what I've seen over the past 30 games or so, Salmons (along with Ben Gordon, because he's playing for a new contract) is going to make a lot of fantasy hoop dudes pissed because they've been hibernatin' on him.

This paragraph made my head spin.


1. He calls John Salmons “cat” and “dude”. He does this because it’s part of his ultra-cool “Ladies Man” like writing style. Ya dig? Sorry I’m hatin, yo.
2. He is clearly very pleased with his discovery that he could use the word “hibernating” to mean “really slept on” (he had the italics in there). Sorry, “hibernatin’”. Next he’ll just start dropping “natin” into columns or something.
3. It’s now acceptable to just take words that are never abbreviated and just abbreviate them without a period or anything. Example being competition just becomes comp. Scoop Jackson is a whole ‘nother breed of ter writers.
4. No fantasy hoop dudes were “hibernatin’” on John Salmons and Ben Gordon.
5. Fantasy leagues generally end with the end of the regular season, so even if people were sleeping on your boy, it wouldn’t matter.
6. Remember last year Scoop said that the Suns were pretty much guaranteed a finals spot because they traded for Big and he’s made the finals in his 3 previous stops in the NBA? I do. Okay that has nothing to do with this post.

Scoop also said that Tony Parker was the best point guard in the NBA and pointed to the fact that he’s won a finals MVP and Chris Paul hasn’t made a finals yet. Yup. It’s that simple folks.

Bill Simmons recently wrote a column about how the Bulls – Celtics playoff series is awesome and stuff, which included this sentence.

They [the Celtics and Bulls] have veteran crowds that know how to affect games and make them a little more fun to watch.

Yeah, take that San Antonio. You too, Los Angeles. In Boston and Chicago, we actually affect the games that we watch. We’re blue collar. We’re a part of the action. We have veteran crowds. Fact: The crowds in Los Angeles skipped college and are only in their second year of following the NBA. The crowd in New Orleans had an average age of 7. No surprise they aren’t in the playoffs any more. We direct the outcome in Chicago and Boston. It is our will, passion, and intensity as basketball fans that make our teams win. You douchebags can come late (LA) and stare at the jumbotron (which they probably do in like, Miami, because those people are stupid and are probably day dreaming about Gloria Estefan and Dan Marino fucking the whole time anyway). In Boston and Chicago, we’ll just keeping living basketball history, thank you.

You have to love any series in which Ben Gordon finally realizes his destiny as a playoff killer. As a Celtics fan, I'm terrified. As a basketball fan, I'm titillated. But it was always meant to be. Even if comparisons to Vinnie "Microwave" Johnson make more sense on paper, I'd liken him more to a shorter Andrew Toney.

Saying that Ben Gordon is a shorter Andrew Toney is like saying that Shaquille O’Neal is a shorter Wilt Chamberlain. They are, like, the same fucking height. Maybe ½ to 1 inch difference, which doesn’t matter unless you have freakish Sam Perkins-like arms. I know I know…Toney may actually be slightly taller…but it’s not like a 4 inch difference or something that would impact the way they play.

Last night I watched the Sportscenter recap of the great Bulls-Celtics game 6 matchup. Jalen Rose described Ray Allen’s game (51 points) as being “heroic”. Um, okay. A little strong, but it was an awesome game and he played great. I’ll go with that. Then about 20 seconds later the anchor had the following back and forth with Rose:

Anchor (I forget): How bad does Kevin Garnett want to be out there?

Jalen Rose: Oh…Heroically!

Yeahhhhh.. Sure. I like it, that’s my new word for “really”. I want Jemele Hill to write a real column that I can puke on heroically bad.

On WEEI this morning (Boston radio), they were talking about the play of Glen Davis in this series and specifically about the matchups with Chicago. Dennis and or Callahan pegged his height at 6’6” or even 6’5”. After the 6'5" comment, John Meter-Perel chimed in with “at most”. He’s listed at 6’9”. Why is this so hard? Some analysts talk about height like they are trying to quantify the players “heart” or something.

One day I’ll read a bad column and maybe comment on it.