Episode 19 – Cavs and Simmons
This week, Mike is joined by fellow baller Lee for some grown-ass basketball chat. Although the internet will probably hate us because we talk about the two worn out stories possible: The Cavs and Bill Simmons.
Imagine the immeasurable odds. The year is 1952. Schools in Indiana have only been desegregated for three years. The population in the state is nearly 96 white people for every four people of color. An overwhelming difference between the powerful majority and marginalized minority.
Here is an innercity school with talented basketball players of different races and backgrounds who have one major hurdle: overcoming the internal and external pressures of integration. It’s not enough that these kids with conflicting cultures and upbringings and histories find common ground on the basketball court. Outside the team, the pressures of racism still loom like terrible monsters stepping out from under beds and behind the cover of clothes in bedroom closets.
Somehow, despite all the odds that are against this team, they make it to the State Championship Game. They find they aren’t so different after all. They’re all just people, and they don’t care what the racists say about them or their team. They are brothers all the same.
This team is the final villain in the 1986 film “Hoosiers.”
The hero team of the movie is a small town team full of unathletic white kids. The towns people are close-minded bullies who hate change and love watching high school hoops.
The coach of the team got kicked out of the NCAA forever because he attacked one of his players. He also got banned from coaching high school basketball in the state of New York for this incident. It’s so bad, the only team that will take him is this small town team full of unathletic white kids. Even then, he only gets the job because he knows the principal.
Besides the coach who batters his own players, the most likable person in this town is a basketball junkie who is the dad of one of players. He’s a raging alcoholic, so the coach makes him his assistant coach. He’s okay at it for a little while but ultimately fails his son and his team by showing up drunk to a game.
The coach’s love interest in the story is mostly okay. She’s a strong, independent woman who could do better than going back to this insignificant and dying small town, but returns home anyway. She hates basketball, which is the one thing the entire town loves, so it’s kind of weird she insists on going back after getting her master’s degree. Her mistake is rewarded by the end, though. She gets to be principal when the old principal has a heart attack. She finds love when this old, wrinkly basketball coach comes into town. We are to assume she settles on him because in a town so small, he’s the only person to whom she isn’t related.
The team makes it to the State Championship Game by abandoning their team-first, motion offense when the town’s only good player joins the team. At this point, they change their offense to the only good player taking isolation 18-foot jumpshots. There’s no three point line at this time to provide spacing, so maybe this was considered a good shot in 1952.
This is when they come across the big bad of the movie: an integrated team of talented players with NBA height and skill. An integrated team that overcomes so much adversity just to play in the big game. A team who learned to play together and work as a single, unified force. All the odds were against them, but here they are. Their dreams coming true!
And that integrated team loses to the team of small-minded farmer kids. How do they lose? The small town team’s one good player makes a bunch of contested jump shots.
For most of the movie, I was on board with the small town team finally succeeding despite every character being unlikable pieces of shit. I mean, that’s why you watch these movies. To see a team with all the odds stacked against it somehow win the big game.
That was until the State Championship Game, of course. How backwards thinking is this movie to applaud a bunch of dickhead white kids for beating a team who overcame race issues to get to the big game? The racial overtones in this movie are equal parts uncomfortable and puzzling — even for a movie made in the still-very-racist-1980’s.
Furthermore, this movie isn’t even good at its racism. The coach of the small town team preaches team play the entire movie then rides on the back of his own good player over and over again. The integrated team relies on true team ball and loses. A movie that’s good at racism would have that flipped, implying that white people may not be as skilled but they can win playing the right way. Obviously, that would be a lie, but at least it’s racism that makes sense.
Is this movie really saying that white people are so much better than everyone else that they don’t even need to do things the right way to win? The whole thing was confusing to me and felt icky the entire time. The movie doesn’t show a person of color until the State Championship Game, holding that card until the end in a show of the true, ultimate evil. It was weird.
And once I saw that brave integrated team playing, I couldn’t help but think that’s the movie. That’s the truly interesting movie. Instead of a movie about a bunch of irrationally angry small town dicks, I want to see an Indiana basketball version of “Remember the Titans.”
Even the integrated teams’ coaches were people of color, and I thought that was very uplifting. The small town’s people got mad the entire movie that their coach was from some place other than their inbred town. Look at the other team! In 1952, there are white players being coached by people of color! That’s a big deal! I have so many questions about it. How do the white parents feel about that? Does the community they live in support it? What hurdles did they overcome?
The villains in this movie must have had such an inspirational path to the big game, and yet we get a story about how a town full of white assholes win yet again. Why? Who cares. They’re white, so yey white people. It makes me sick.
I don’t care if the integrated team still loses in the end, that’s the movie I want to see. That’s the movie that gives me hope about the innate goodness of mankind. That’s the story about overcome immeasurable odds.
A movie about white people winning despite being less talented and playing the wrong way? Fuck that. “Hoosiers” is the worst.
The NBA shocked basketball fans around the world today by confirming Mike Dunleavy Jr. is, in fact, a white person. Sources around the league have been saying for years that they suspected Dunleavy was white based on his light complexion and Aryan-dirty-blonde hair, but it was not until Dunleavy knocked out Michael Carter Williams’ teeth and hit Giannis Antetokounmpo in the neck while avoiding any significant punishment for these acts that those suspicions were finally confirmed.
Our sources point out that Dunleavy has been a dirty asshole for years now and got away with it, which should have been the first and most relevant clue to Dunleavy’s whiteness.
“Just like most rich, white guys in America, Dunleavy has been getting away with acting like a bag of human feces for years now,” one high-ranking NBA source said.
“Fuck that guy,” said another source.
It should be noted that Dunleavy was not called for fouls in Game 6 where these offenses occurred, but the NBA did give him a Flagrant One for them. Just like other rich, white guys, he gets a slap on the wrist and a fine for physically hurting his fellow NBA players with the reckless abandon of someone who will never have to pay for his mistakes.
It should also be noted that the before-mentioned NBA sources may or may not have been a single, ranting homeless man who lives under a bridge in a nearby park. That doesn’t make those quotes any less true.
Episode 18 – Cavs and Mavs
Mike is joined this week by Kirk from Mavs Moneyball and Noted Baller, Demetri. We talk mainly about the Cavs and the Mavs. Because that’s something logical this group of people would do.
Episode 17 – Bucksetball
Ever think about the Milwaukee Bucks and wonder “what’s up with them?”? Well here’s your answer. Frank from Brew Hoop and Mike talk nothing but Bucks. Milwaukee is pretty cool and so is this podcast.
BASKETBALL PARTY episode EIGHTEEN continues as the premier NBA podcast featuring two adult women talking to one another. In our playoffs eve eve preview, we discuss the mystery of who the 8th seeds will be (now solved!), make our blind picks (subject to change), find out Mikhail Prokhorov has one more year before he has to give up bachelorhood, talk MVP yet again and then get on a tangent about the forever-controversial Chief Wahoo. He’s horrible, but so hard to quit.
Erin M. Routson is an art director & freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY (for now.) She is still looking for that youth Kyle Korver Atlanta Hawks jersey. Follow her running commentary on Twitter @dietcokeforever.
Kim Huston is a copywriter based in Louisville, KY. She is anxiously awaiting how ZZ Top Pop’s playoff beard will get. You can attempt to follow her on Twitter @kimpossiblydire.
Let’s look at some career numbers. Player one: 2.7 turnovers per game, 2.6 personal fouls per game, .327 3P% and a 103 defensive rating. Player two: 1.8 turnovers per game, 2.0 personal fouls per game, .326 3P% and a 110 defensive rating.
Who are these two players? I’ll give you a few hints. They both are considered once in a generation players. They both are shooting guards. They both have slept with my wife. They both are synonymous with the number 23.
Player one is Michael Jordan. Player two is Dion Waiters. You probably guessed the second player from the title of this article. You probably knew Waiters is a special talent. You probably didn’t know he was putting up career numbers that equal and sometimes surpass Michael Jordan.
I don’t blame you for not realizing just how special Waiters is as a player. The Thunder missed the playoffs this season in a brutal Western Conference. I bet you think (like most people) that Waiters is good, but he’s putting these kinds of numbers up on a team that missed the playoffs.
Empty numbers, right?
Let me spit some knowledge at you.
Waiters is not to blame for the Thunder missing the playoffs. They traded for Waiters too late in the season for him to save the team. By the point he joined the Thunder, they were already a struggling, injury-rattled mess. They were already in a relentless fight for the eight seed.
The Thunder lost three of four games to the Pelicans, but two of those losses came before he could carry the team to victory. The Thunder lost their playoff spot to those Pellies on a tiebreaker. Not having Waiters for those first two games was the difference.
And Waiters aside, things only got worse.
Kevin Durant was supposed to be the perfect Robin to Waiters’ Batman. Durant is as tall as a center and can shoot the lights out. He’s a perfect player to help spread the floor for the mad scientist creator Waiters is. Durant is also an improved playmaker the last few years. Not Waiters-level, but good enough that Waiters could play off the ball some.
Anyone who watched the few games Waiters and Durant played together could not deny the chemistry the two had together. It was electric. Like two players sharing one genius mind. Or no. Like Waiters’ genius mind was able to control Durant’s body while simultaneously controlling his own. Or no. Not that either. Waiters was like a basketball God, and Durant was his creation.
It was all supposed to work, but Scott Brooks happened. He refused to play Durant anymore. Then he refused to play their defensive linchpin, Serge Ibaka! Those were two of the Thunder’s best three players the last few years, and Brooks sat them on the bench.
As inexcusable as that was, at least Waiters would have been able to carry the team if Brooks had enough sense to give him the ball and tell everyone to get out of the way. Instead, he gave the ball to his “point guard” (I’m putting “point guard” in quotations so you know I mean it sarcastically) Russell Westbrook and let him destroy the team.
Waiters had a usage rate of 26.9% in 2013-14 and 24.0% in 2014-15 when he was with the Cavs. That rate dropped down to 21.7% with the Thunder! Meanwhile, Westbrook’s usage rate exploded to 38.4%. That includes five games with a usage rate of 49% or higher and many, many more at 40% or higher.
I don’t know what Westbrook and Brooks were thinking, but I have an idea. Two people with the word “brook” in their last names. Clearly this is some kind of “brook” conspiracy against a player who may be the best basketball player of all time. The “brook” brothers took advantage of Waiters’ innate unselfishness and coachability to destroy his MVP chances.
They went as far as risking making the playoffs because Waiters and his non-brooksian name threatened them to their core. Nothing is more petty than to risk an entire season because someone without “brook” in his name is the most talented player in the NBA.
I am willing to bet once the sun sets on the careers of the coaches and players on this Thunder team, some stories will come out about the Waiters Thunder. And I am willing to bet, those stories will not be pretty.
A good coach or teammate sees the greatness of Waiters and doesn’t try to squash it like a tiny, basketball playing bug. Maybe like a bee. That seems like a bug that would be better than other bugs at basketball. Plus Waiters is sort of shaped like a bee.
That Waiters could have a Michael Jordan-type season while his own coach and teammates jealously tried to destroy him is amazing. Scott Brooks benched the two players who best complimented Waiters’ game. He gave the ball to a far less talented ball hog and had his team effectively play keep away with him. Yet the greatness that is Waiters still shined brightly.
So call his numbers empty if you want. Call it amazing numbers on a non-playoff team. Call that useless. But know you are speaking from a place of ignorance when you do so. That Waiters could put up numbers I compared to MICHAEL FUCKING JORDAN while all that bullshit was happening? That’s amazing.
That would crush a lesser man.
Waiters will never be a lesser man.
BASKETBALL PARTY episode SEVENTEEN continues as the premier NBA podcast featuring two adult women talking to one another. In a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of a episode, Kim inadvertently gives Derrick Rose body issues, we get deep into Tom Cruise’s newfound (or just newly publicized?) basketball fandom, talk NBA news events – Rondo, Copeland, Bhullar, and once again because we just can’t stop: we talk emojis.
Erin M. Routson is an art director & freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY (for now.) She wears sweatpants often, but knows not to holster a gun in them. Follow her running commentary on Twitter @dietcokeforever.
Kim Huston is a copywriter based in Louisville, KY. She would willingly be carried out of a meeting by KG if she got too hot. You can attempt to follow her on Twitter @kimpossiblydire.
The Cavs have pulled off an amazing feat of competing for a title while also tanking for a top pick.
Owners of the top pick in three of the last four years, the Cavs have already perfected the art of tanking. They knew Cleveland would never be a hot bed for free agents and the only way to acquire top-tier talent was through the draft or trying to ensure that the greatest player of our generation just happened to grow up in the general area. They decided the draft was an easier gamble.
And it worked! They tanked their way into three top overall picks and two fourth overall picks in the span of four years.
But out of those players, they were only able to land one star – 2011 first overall pick Kyrie Irving. Tristan Thompson (4th pick, 2011) has proven to be a reliable role player while Dion Waiters (4th pick 2012) and Anthony Bennett (1st pick 2013) both struggled and have since been traded.
That leaves the top pick from the 2013 draft, Andrew Wiggins. Widely projected for big things in the NBA, most thought being paired with LeBron was a perfect situation for the young Canadian.
But almost immediately trade rumors began to swirl that the Cavs were going to trade Wiggins for disgruntled, but established star Kevin Love.
It seemed a natural fit – a sharp-shooting pick-and-roll/pop partner for Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. Added bonus – he was just entering his prime. It was easy to look at this move as the Cavs going all-in to win now.
The Cavs were playing the long game all along. They knew that with Kyrie and LeBron on the team, another star wing player in Wiggins was redundant. And while Kevin Love is a nice player, he can opt-out at the end of the year and will never live up to his numbers from Minnesota.
The trade was never about right now. It was never about getting the best player for 2015, it was about getting the best pick for 2015.
Kevin Love is the most attractive free agent available this offseason. He owns a player option and could negotiate a sign and trade with the Cavaliers to send him to a new team. Like, say – the big-market New York Knicks. Or, perhaps, his long-rumored preference to play close to home for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Those two teams just happen to be two of the four worst teams in the NBA.
That’s right – the Cavs traded Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love so that they could trade him for the top pick in this year’s draft. They want to have picked first overall in four of the last five years. Maybe be the first team to win a championship and select first overall in the same year. David Griffin is an evil genius tanking circles around the rest of the league.
So while the other teams play the Draft Lottery – Griffin will keep playing them for fools.