NBA Finals, Conspiracies, Legends, and Has Been Bitches

Derek Fisher, Jameer Nelson

Last night’s game was memorable to say the least.  D-Fish gets all the credit in the world for hitting those two big threes.  Trevor Ariza really stepped his game up in the third quarter.  Kobe missed a lot of shots but the ones he hit kept the team from getting blown out when the rest of the guys were struggling.  But there were some other things that really bothered me that I have to say.  I say these things because others in the media won’t.  They are afraid to.  I’m not.  I have no stake in this thing other than being a devoted fan of the Lakers and an even bigger fan of the game of basketball. 

I tell people all the time.  “Yea LA has been my team since 1979.  Whether they were up or down.  If they play great they play great.  If they suck they suck.  I don’t say they are great or got cheated when they sucked.”  I am as hard on them as anybody.  The point being that I am no fair weather guy.  Even in the midst of this series part of my fan apprehension of the team is wondering what team would show up on a given night.  Would it be the inept team that showed up in the first half of last night’s game missing assignments and making mental mistakes?  Or that third quarter team that showed a level of hunger that matches their talent?  Either way I don’t deceive myself about what is before me.

I say all of that to say this.  If I wasn’t sure before, now I know without question that on occasions the NBA officiating is either corrupted by instruction of the league or of the gamblers.  Let me explain. 

While everyone is caught up in Fisher’s heroics and rightfully so, the Lakers were in a situation where the game was almost impossible to win.  Consider this: 

While the Magic went to the free throw line time after time in the fourth quarter, the Magic were not called for a single foul in the fourth quarter until the last two minutes.  This was not a situation where the Lakers were only shooting jump shots.  To the contrary Kobe himself went to the rack several times and got plenty of contact with no whistle. Eventually he just went with the fade away shots.  Meanwhile, Hedo,  and Howard went to the line with regularly and Pietrus got an “And 1”  opportunity (a good call) on a drive against Bryant. 

Let’s add it up on this level.  Of the last 17 minutes of the game, including overtime, the Magic had a total of three fouls called on them, and the only Laker to see the free throw line was Pau Gasol after a flagrant foul at the end of the game.  Meanwhile, during the first two periods, Gasol, Bynum (or Lord Bynum) and Odom quickly got into foul trouble.  The Lakers were sporting a front line of Mbenga and Powell in the second quarter for god-sake.   The first foul on Bynum in the first quarter was a play where Kobe clearly made contact with Howard, but Andrew got the foul.  OK no biggie.  But the foul Bynum got in the second half when he and Howard were tipping a lose ball was flat out ridiculous.  Not only was there no contact between the players, Bynum had the inside position.  The only reason the Lakers were in a position to tie the game was because Orlando turned the ball over 19 times and missed most of their crucial free throws.  The officials did everything they could to hand them the game.  The Magic just couldn’t take it. 

Lamar Odom foul call

Now look, I am an official and I know that we all miss calls.  So maybe Kobe goes to the hole and doesn’t get the call.  There are times when I don’t make a call and say to myself afterwards, “I missed that one. ” But the thing is, as an official you don’t keep missing them.  I also understand that at time teams get calls on their home court.  But for the Magic to be in the penalty five minutes into the final period and the Lakers not to get a call their way until the clock was under 2 minutes was shameful. 

I honstly felt sick to my stomach watching that game.  Because my love for NBA basketball took a hard fall while sitting in front of that TV.  Even as the Lakers climbed back in the game and eventually won it, as much as I have celebrated and cried for my team even as a youngster, I could only think that in spite of the NBA wanting to extend the series, justice was served as the Lakers fought their way to victory.  There was no smile on my face, only contempt. 

I get that there is an entertainment level to the game.  No one wants to see superstar players leave the game in foul trouble.  I get that.  Still for me win or lose, there has to be a purity to the game.  Players should decide the outcome.  Calls will be missed, mistakes made by players, coaches and officials.  The Lakers have benefited from such mistakes too in times past.  Last night it was so blatant it was just ugly.  I thought to myself  that I may not even watch the rest of the series.  I would like to see the Lakers take it home.  But I know this for sure.  I won’t look at the NBA the same anymore after last night. 

The Lakers won’t say anything because miraculously they won the game.  But don’t think they don’t understand what went down. I don’t know that Orlando will get the help they just got though they have another home game on Sunday.  It wouldn’t surprise me either way.  But I’m just saying.

BB&G’s Random Rants

We know that coach Phil Jackson is trying to win his 10th NBA title as a coach.  But for some reason NBA has-been Alonzo Mourning thought it his place to say that Phil doesn’t do anything but show up while Kobe does the coaching.  This from a man who played 15 years in the NBA and didn’t win nothing until he rode the coattail of Dwayne Wade in 2006.  He seems to point to Kobe talking to players and showing them things on the diagram to make points during timeouts.  But as I recall every great team has facilitators and leaders who are coaches on the floor.  I remember Magic and Michael doing it back in the day.  Isaiah did it with the Pistons.  Chauncey Billups is the ultimate example of that.  But just because he was an extension of the coach I didn’t hear anybody saying that Larry Brown just showed up and called timeouts.  Or that George Karl doesn’t have anything to offer.   Phil is surely secure with himself so he makes fun of Zo’s being a bitch.  I guess that little play Phil drew up taking the ball out past half court so the Magic wouldn’t foul right away before Fisher’s three was Kobe’s idea too. Whatever.

Random Rants 2

I love me some Bill Russell.  Greatest NBA winner ever and a true statesman.  But WTF is up with him showing up at the last couple NBA Finals sucking up to the Lakers opponents big men.  Last year it was KG, which is understandable because it was the Celtics.  But this little feature with Dwight Howard was just ridiculous.  I mean what relationship does he have to the Magic?  Just that they are trying to beat the Lakers and if they were to beat the Lakers it would prevent Phil Jackson from surpassing Russell’s coach Red Auerbach in championship trophies?  I mean if the Cavs were in it would he be schmoozing with Anderson Varejao or Big Z?  I thought that was kinda whack.  Red’s place is cemented in history.  But these haters can’t take nothing away from Phil.  Talk about Jordan, Kobe and Shaq all you want.  But take one look at all of the hall of famers that Red coached and then get back at me on that.  A coach has to know how to work what he has.

Speaking of coaches.  What is up with Cleveland jerking Mike Brown around?  If this guy’s job isn’t safe this year, that shows that LeBron really has their management team shook.  I know ya’ll have to sign “The King” and all… but don’t be so fickle.  Have some balls at least and show some freaggin loyalty.  With this talk of Pat Riley Dan Gilbert is starting to remind me of Dan Snyder.

The College and University Hustle

When I went to school, one of the things that amazed me was the way colleges get over on things like books.  I mean I would buy a used text book for $100 sometimes that I was only going to use for 8 weeks.  Then when I’d take the book back they’d give me $20 for it.  Of course they sell the jenk for $100 again since it’s still in great condition.  I would say to myself, “Ya’ll sho nuff some pimps for real!”

I recently got a hold of a brochure for another college hustle.  Bed sheets.  That’s right.  It seems that the beds in some of these colleges are not made like standard beds you buy for your home.  Therefore you have to get these special made sheets to fit them.  Check out how this brochure reads from the UMKC (University of Missouri Kansas City) Residential Life Business Office:

REGULAR SHEETS WON’T FIT OUR BEDS

THESE SHEETS ARE GUARANTEED TO FIT.

In previous years, some students always showed up with sheets that did not fit the beds on campus.  Parents were frustrated, and some students were left literally “short sheeted” and unable to properly make their beds.  This is not how we want your student’s first nights at the University of Missouri-Kansas City to be remembered.

To solve this problem, we made a special arrangements last year with a manufacturer to reserve one set of custom-fitted, first quality linens for each student.  This ensured that these hard-to-find sheets, comforters and mattress pads met our size and quality requirements.  It also allowed us to pass along a good deal to new students.

Over 70% of buyers purchased one of the convenient, discounted Value Paks.  Each features significant savings with free bonus items.  With a choice of 3 Value Paks in over 20 color combinations, it’s an easy and affordable way to get everything you need all at once.  Value Paks are also shipped to your home free.

(BBG’s notes – now check out the next part)

The program was a huge success.  On move-in day, students who took advantage of the program were able to make their beds without hassle, and parents thanked us for eliminating a time consuming search.  That’s why we are endorsing the program again this year.

**** I could go on with the rest of the form, but I think you get the point by now.  These sheets and Value Paks which include towels and pillows for instance start from $125 – $200.  This hustle from making the beds an unusual size so that one cannot bring their own sheets.  At least that is what it seems to be saying. 

 Perhaps the beds are the same as any twin or standard college dorm bed.  Regardless it’s hilarious to me.  The only thing they need in this brochure was a picture of Billy Mays. 

If my sheets didn’t “fit” just right that I’d brought from home, I think I would have managed OK with that.

Sleeping Dogs Awake

North Korea
 
What should not be lost in all of this, and what the media should pick up on is the position that George Bush, Dick Cheney and their followers have put us in with the war in Iraq specifically as well as Afghanistan to a lesser degree.  We put Saddam in the ground alright, though now Cheney admitted recently what we already knew which was that he was simply one of many dictators who had no link to 9-11.  But the bottom like is that Kim Jong Il knows full and well that our military as great as it’s been, is tremendously overextended.  Our “war on terror” does not have a definite end, and we are caught up trying to stay alive in the desert sands of underdeveloped third world nations. 
 
With all of that said to borrow an old school phrase, North Korea is smelling their piss and showing their ass daring anyone to say anything to them.
As it stands these brigdge to nowhere wars have put us in a vulnerable position.   Make no mistake about it.  North Korea is for real. 
 
And while Americans are caught up in the rhetoric of a Rush Limbaugh and these racial politics, the real dangers are lurking half a world away in full time speed.
Keep on defending yourself and your legacy Dick. 
 
Hannity, Dobbs, keep on attacking the current president over stupid stuff.  The future for our children and grandchildren looks great!
 
North Korea

Magic Shoot Well, Eeek Out Game 3

Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol

I can’t offer much commentary on this game.  I was umpiring a baseball game so I only saw the last quarter when I stopped by a Buffalo Wild Wings down the street from the ballpark. 

From what I hear the Magic got back on track shooting wise, and got a little of their swag back in the process.   Kobe was hot hitting some ridiculous shots and then quickly turned cold. 

I won’t find out much more than that because whether the Lakers win or lose I tend not to watch much coverage between games.  There is too much talking and over analyzing for me as commentators dissect every part of the game and speak fatalistically for the losing team.  The game is just the game.  It can turn with little things like shots going in.  The same people throwing dirt on Orlando’s grave will now speak as if the Lakers are on the brink of elimination.

These are pros.  But it’s still a game played by humans so you never know.  I know that’s not sexy but anything else is fantasy. 

Barring a rainout on Thursday, I should at least get to catch the next game by halftime by the latest.

The Wasted Wealth of Pro Athletes

 

 • By the time they have been retired for two years, 78% of former NFL players have gone bankrupt or are under financial stress because of joblessness or divorce.

Wow!  This is some kind of story.  I knew that many athletes lose a lot of their loot on silly things.  But I had no idea it was at this rate.

I think that many athletes are so focused on their careers, that they allow others to do their decision making for them. 

I am reminded of how Earvin “Magic” Johnson got into business years ago.  He knew nothing about business but knew he wanted to be as successful if not more successful as he was during his NBA playing days. 

Instead of being a knucklehead trying to play ball with the big boys of the business world, he humbled himself and sought being mentored by more than a few very successful businessmen who had a track record.  He specifically made it clear that he didn’t want to be the front man for anyone.  He wanted to learn how they made decisions so that he could make his own when the time came. 

The proof is the pudding. 

Magic waited till his playing days were pretty much over before he really got heavily involved in the business world so he could do his due diligence.   One can read Oscar De La Hoya’s book where he talks in great detail of how he’s worked with the best to be mentored into the business world.  It’s sad to hear how so many other athletes in 2009 still waste their wealth and do not learn from these examples. 

The truth that they don’t get is that they have to work even harder in the business world than they did on their athletic gifts.  This is mostly because they are not familiar with how the game of business is played nor their ever changing rules of engagement. 

Oprah said it best.  “Sign your own checks.”  But hell you’ll still sign anything someone else tells you if you don’t know any better.

I understand how most are confused and frustrated with the learning curve.  But as the saying goes, “if you think education cost, try ignorance.”

Eighth-Grade Graduations

A friend of mine forwarded this article to me recently.  I read it and thought the subject worthy of discussion. 

I have opinions that I will leave out of this post.  If there is any interest comment wise I will share my views later this week.

This came from the Raising Kane column of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Eugene Kane.

BTW: Kane also wrote a follow up article on this one responding to the feedback he got from this original post.  You can read here.

 

This is a much-anticipated time of year for hard-working graduates to celebrate their academic accomplishments with family and friends.

But eighth grade?

The sad fact is, in a city like Milwaukee, with its extremely high dropout rate, a majority of eighth-graders may never get a high school diploma. For some, eighth-grade graduation might be the highlight of their school days, which is pretty depressing.

Even President Barack Obama has taken note of the increased prominence of eighth-grade graduation celebrations.

“Now hold on a second – this is just eighth grade,” Obama said in his remarks about education last year during a campaign appearance at a Chicago church. “You’re supposed to graduate from eighth grade.”

I suspect Obama witnessed the same scene I did during visits to some central-city schools for eighth-grade ceremonies in recent years. My last visit, about three years ago, was an eye-opener.

There were 14-year-old boys and girls dressed to the nines, including formal wear, in front of an enthusiastic audience of friends and relatives. When the students received their “diplomas,” most were so demonstrative you might have assumed they were finished with their formal education.

I did a quick survey this week of some African-American friends with school-age children – mainly mothers – and discovered this particular issue has been drawing attention for some time.

“Yes, I think some black people are guilty of going too far with graduations, period!” said Tina King, who has a daughter graduating from the eighth grade this week. King said her daughter’s school wasn’t planning a traditional walk across the stage; a recognition dinner was planned instead.

King said she understood why some parents go overboard. “The thing is, with our black children being killed or dropping out of school, every graduation is a big thing,” she said.

Another friend who has attended more than a few eighth-grade graduations criticized the overkill. “Eighth grade is just a completion ceremony; they do not graduate until the 12th grade. Yet, every year I am amazed at the amount of money parents spend. I’ve seen limos, tuxes, formal gowns, sometimes the mothers, too.

“My question is, what do they have to look forward to when they actually do graduate, or are the parents going to these extremes because they are afraid that for many this will be their only ceremony?”

Teachers shared my concern but defended the ceremonies as a necessary enticement for some students. “With the way things are now and the new generation of kids, I think it’s good to celebrate accomplishments on any level to encourage their positive behavior,” said one educator.

That’s a good point. There’s nothing wrong with kids feeling good about themselves, but my fear is that the bar is being set so low, some students might start to view eighth grade as the high point of their education instead of simply the latest step.

I suggest each eighth-grade graduate should receive a heartfelt congratulation, quickly followed by a stern reminder about the challenges to come if they intend to receive a high school diploma one day. Celebrate quickly, because next school year, you’ll need to be ready to get back to work.

Ninth grade is no picnic.

Lakers Up 2-0, Series Heads to Florida

Courtney Lee, Pau Gasol

Lots will be said about Courtney Lee missing on the lob at the end of regulation and I think it’s unfair to put it all on him.  The Magic have other issues and part of those issues are the fact that the Lakers are playing very well overall.  There will be other opportunities for them when the series shifts to Orlando tomorrow.  The play called by Stan Van Gundy was genius.  Kobe Bryant said it best when he was asked what went through his mind as he saw the play develop in what could have resulted in a series tie.  “Shit.”

Rashard Lewis was in full effect.  But Lamar Odom put the D down in the fourth quarter and into overtime with 5 fouls when it counted. 

Speaking of fouls; will someone please free Andrew Bynum who can’t get a break?  It’s as if the refs don’t want this guy to play when you see the calls they make on him as it compares to the other big men.

I have to give the Lakers credit.  Though Orlando made some good adjustments in getting their shooters open, their effort was there pretty much the entire game.   Odom was active getting boards and scoring when needed.  Gasol was dialed in and D-Fish is D-Fish again.  Even if Lee had convereted, I still would have been happy with the effort and confident in the direction of the series overall.

Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant

Big win for the Lakers because even though the series is going back East, the Magic cannot win the series in Orlando.  In addition, they will have to beat the Lakers 4 out of the next 5 games.  This seems unlikely with Los Angeles having the final two games in Staples.

The Lakers took care of their business at home.   Orlando will come out with a lot of energy as they feed from their home crowd.  The Lakers could all but end this on Tuesday.  Old school conservative thinking is to get one of the three in Orlando.  But if they can press their way and manage to get game 3, look for the broom.

Kobe, Lakers Make A Statement!

Kobe Bryant, J.J. Reddick

Ok.  So the start was quite impressive.  Kobe played more angry than I’ve ever seen and he was focused from start to finish.  There are a few reasons why I think this is happening.  But I will keep that under the lid for now.  I want to see how he plays the rest of the series to test my theories. 

But what can you say about his 18 point third quarter.  His energy, speed and skill set was just superior.  I can’t say I am amazed cause it’s him.  But I can say I am extremely impressed in understanding that nobody does it like he does.  NOBODY!  He was the Amazing Thing Happening.

What I enjoyed about the victory most of all was not that it was a blowout.  Blowing out a veteran team like the Celtics did in 1985 against the Lakers in the famed Memorial Day Massacre is one thing.  Guys like Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy were going to respond no question.  The Lakers won that series in 6.  I don’t know if the Magic have that mentality and sometimes you know how this version of the Lake Show tend to not show up at times. 

To that point what happened last night was that the Team LA never let up off the pedal for one possession neither offensively or defensively.  They didn’t even allow the Magic to gain any confidence by making a small run at the end of the fourth quarter to take with them into the next game.  I have always said about this team that if they play this hard and focused every night they are easily THE best team in the NBA.  Even if the Magic had connected on more of those 3’s that they were hoisting, LA would have still won by 15. 

There is a lot more basketball to be played.  For the Lakers to get Game 2 would really put something on Orlando’s mind.  If the Magic could steal game 2, they will forget all about the blowout.  I hope my team understands that.

Obama Presidential, Bin Laden Shook!

President Obama in Saudi Arabia

 Clearly this visit by President Barack Obama to Egypt has shaken Osama Bin Laden.  While The President has been offering some great dialogue within his speeches about the relationships between Muslims and non Muslim nations, Bin Laden felt the need to make a tape trying to throw salt on the game.  Of all the tapes Bin Laden released in the past, I would say they were offensive messages meant to rile up his followers.  This one is obviously a defensive message as
The President has reached out to start a new process of peaceful living between Muslims and Jews.

President Obama in Saudi Arabia

I’ll tell you what too… these cats sure know how to set things out royally.  I look forward to visiting these types of places myself.  There are some majestic scenery’s indoors and out.  So far the feelings towards Obama’s speech has been positive in that he is speaking and not lecturing as most have.  He is holding all side accountable including Israel as well as the Palestinians. 

Obama addresses the Muslim world

When you consider the thousands of years of conflict based on religious beliefs and the hardliners, I can’t forsee a day of true and authentic peace in the Middle East.  But certainly things can get better if the leadership of these nations and their citizens of sound minds decide to.

One Two Three Game Time Whoop!

How much longer?

Game 1 of the NBA Finals tonight.  You know who I’m wit!  I’ll side with The President on the prediction.  Lake Show in 6! 

Look!  As long as the Lakers play D and play hard they will win the series.  Period.  IF they don’t it will be from lack of focus and effort on D and on the boards. 

Not taking anything away from The Magic.  They can do to LA what they did to Boston and Cleveland if the Lakers don’t bring it for a full 48 minutes (plus if necessary.) 

Dwight Howard

The Lakers have the talent and skill to do it.  Only their commitment has come into question at times.  Still they rise however and they are here.

I do agree with this article however.  My man Kobe can only dominate like he is so much longer at the age of 30 with all of the NBA miles he has on him.  With free agency and uncertainty the way it is, unless the Lakers make a Kevin Garnett type of move, this may be his best look at a championship for the remainder of his career.