Greatest Hits: A Sanctions Letter from Stern to the NBA

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Breaking news here, everyone. I have obtained a letter David Stern sent out just tonight to the staff of the NBA and all thirty teams. While, ultimately, I cannot guarantee the 100% authenticity of this letter, I can say I got it from a very trustworthy source. I met a guy in a Jim’s Steakout bathroom who told me he was a scout for an unnamed Western Conference team. He wore a tie and everything, so I think he was legit.

Read the letter for yourself, though. If this isn’t the real deal, it is a very convincing approximation of what a David Stern letter sounds like:

 

Hey jerks and jerkettes,

David Stern here. I just wanted to reiterate that I am on my way out and I don’t care anymore. I’m going to do what I want. If it pisses anyone off, I’m just going to kick the problem back on that gangly douchebag Silver. I held myself back for a long time now because I had to worry about working with all you morons for years to come, but that isn’t an issue anymore. Deal with it.

The real David Stern has come out to play, and he’s tired of all your crap. I’m trying to run a business here, and I have jerkbags like Gregg Popovich trying to pull cute little schemes like resting all his good players for a nationally televised game. Because maybe it will help his team in some minor way? Screw off, GREGG. Why are you assholes shitting on all the cool stuff we do? Like big regular season matchups and sideline interviews and rigging the draft lottery errr… something to do with twitter or youtube.

I made the NBA into the powerhouse it is today, yet you idiots keep trying to mess everything up. You don’t see this BS in football! So, yeah… I sanctioned GREGG. Deal with it because I am not done.

Please refer to the below list of things that are now sanctioned from this moment forth for the sake of our fans:

1. Reggie Evans. If the Nets play that ugly, no offense dickweed again, I’m going to fine their asses.  Just play Humphries longer. He was married to a Kardashian once.

2. Getting high before games. You know it’s actually against the rules to do drugs anyway… oh, and against US Law, but I get it. I’m cool. I’m not trying to rock the boat too much. Just wait until after the game to get high. People can tell when you’re all stoned and not giving a shit.

3. Beards. I get the allure. I went through a crazy beard phase myself once, but this is getting out of hand. James Harden has ruined it for everyone. I don’t care if kids think they’re cool — these beards are scaring old white people. You know… the people who buy tickets while the young people all stream their games for free online.

4. Any small market team with a losing record. Come on, guys. It’s like you’re begging me to contract the league before I leave.

5. Ugly people who buy courtside seats. I know I can’t fine the fans, so I’m going to fine any team that doesn’t kick them the hell out and replace their empty seats with models.

6. Dippin’ Dots. Ice cream of the future, my ass! In my day, we had two kinds of ice cream – vanilla and chocolate. Neither of those came in the form of a billion tiny frozen balls at double the manufacturing cost. Get those out of our arenas.

 7. The players union. You know who you are.

8. Benches. People come to see the starters — not a bunch of no talent glorified D-Leaguers. From now on, give the fans what they want — more star players playing more minutes.

I’ll have more sanctions for everyone later, but start working on this list. Especially the part about Dippin’ Dots. I don’t know what that shit is all about.

Sincerely,

David Stern

(P.S. Suck it.)

A lot of interesting stuff in that letter — too much for me to break down at the moment — so I’ll let the letter stand on its own. But for anyone who thought Stern was basically going to be a lameduck Commissioner during his last few years on the job, clearly he’s going the opposite direction. We’ll have to see how these and future sanctions shape the NBA in years to come.

Greatest Hits: A Blown Chance at History: Wizards versus Trailblazers

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I am disappointed in the Washington Wizards. Few players get a chance to be forever immortalized in the record books. It is an opportunity that should not be squandered all willy nilly, but that is exactly what the Wizards did. Instead of being a historically bad team, the Wizards are now merely an extremely bad team that will be forgotten.

I know this game against the Trailblazers would have been only their 13th loss to start the season, but their schedule held such great potential for continued losses if they could have only gotten through this one game completely scathed. Their next four games are going to be against teams with winning records — games they will surely lose even still. That would have brought them up to 17 losses to start the season. Their 18th game (and potential record-tying loss) of the season is against New Orleans — another horrible team that is facing injury issues. That would have been quite the dog fight, but I think if they tried extremely hard to not give any effort at all, they could have pulled off the loss.

Still it comes down to them blowing blowing this game, which makes what could have been simultaneously hypothetical and pointless. I had a bad feeling early on when the Wizards first overcame an early deficit and then had the gull to take a double digit second half lead. Yet, they still found themselves back on the road to history when they blew the lead completely in the fourth quarter and found themselves down within the last two and a half minutes.

The moment of truth came when Okafor was at the line with 39 seconds left and the game tied. Nobody blinks when a big man misses a couple free throws. He could have just done it, but no — he made both.

Yet these are the Wizards. America’s Wizards! If there is time on the clock, there is always a chance they can still lose, and they almost pulled it off. The Trailblazers got four possessions and two shot attempts  in the last 39 seconds, but they weren’t able to make any of them. Sure, the Wizards could have played less defense. In fact, they SHOULD have, but the onus is ultimately on Portland for missing two shots (and turning the ball over once).

The Wizards even realized that they were messing up, with Nene blatantly fouling Matthews, but it was too late in the game for the refs to make that kind of call, so it went down as a steal, a timeout, and then a Wizards win. Pathetic. Too little too late on the Wizards’ side.

All I can say is I’m extremely upset. Winning this game didn’t make the Wizards any less terrible, but it did keep them out of the record books. Records were made to be broken, and the Wizards failed to sink to the occasion. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Greatest Hits: Royce White Isn’t Helping His Cause, but He Could Be

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Royce White is handling this all wrong, which is different than saying he is completely at fault for the feud between the Rockets, his anxiety disorder, and him. I am giving both sides the benefit of the doubt that nobody outside the team knows enough about this situation to fully assign blame. I find it sad that White hasn’t given NBA fans the benefit of the doubt of fully disclosing the truth behind this feud.

“In hindsight, perhaps it was not a good idea to be open and honest about my anxiety disorder,” a statement from White said.

Give people some credit here. White’s travel issues stem from a combination of an anxiety disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which often go hand in hand. I should know as I have the same disorders. Although my triggers and obsessions don’t involve plane travel, I get what White is going through. It can be crippling at times. Most people either know someone with these issues or have them as well. Most people are sympathetic.

The issue here is not a matter of sympathy over White’s anxiety problems, but a matter of information and poor decision making. On the Rockets’ side, they are saying he hasn’t shown up to practice or met with their team-ordered therapist. On White’s side, he says the Rockets have been inconsistent in their travel allowances. It is one side flinging blame at the other, and we only know one thing for sure — White hasn’t shown up to practice or met with the team-ordered therapist.

That is the only thing we know for sure because White is calling out his organization without getting into specifics. If the Rockets are not living up to their end of the deal, I would like to hear the how and why. What was the original deal? In what way aren’t they honoring it? If White were giving a persuasive speech in some undergrad Communications class right now, he would be failing. He is telling fans what to believe without giving them any reason to believe it.

To make matters worse for himself, he is showing no signs of good faith from his side. White is not important enough to his team at this point to think refusing to go to practice is a negotiating tactic he can use to win. He hasn’t even played in a game yet this season. Staying away from his team will only serve to anger his team and lose the support of NBA fans. It is a move that is a sign of immaturity from a young player. Real men face their problems head-on. Real men don’t try to hold their team hostage in the most laughably weak ransom attempt I have ever seen.

I know he probably finds seeing a team-ordered therapist a little degrading as well, and make no mistake about it — that move IS honestly degrading. White has his own therapist that he already works with, so the implication that he needs to see one the Rockets personally picked out is offensive. Still, for the sake of the situation, he should have gone to see this therapist while making it known that he is only doing it as a sign of good faith. He could have bluntly stated that he is going to stick with his own therapist in the long term.

White could have turned both of these prospects — going to practice and going to the team-ordered therapist — around to benefit himself. It would have shown him to be a reasonable guy just looking for a solution to a problem most people are sympathetic towards. He could have gone, and then he could have spoken to the press about the issues he was having. He could have become the good guy in this situation.

Instead, he has given the Rockets strength. If the Rockets are truly in the wrong here — if they aren’t living up to their original agreement — all White has to do is explain. All he has to do is go to practice, say he wants to help his team win any way he can, and explain why his team isn’t dedicated to helping him. That would help White a lot more than the games he is playing now.

Greatest Hits: Harden Trade Had to Happen: The Thunder Were Getting Old(er)

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Listen. We all loved the Kevin Durant-Russell Westbrook-James Harden trio. They were loveable, the won a lot of games, and they were actually incredibly close to winning a title last year. Closer than the fact that it was a five game series would indicate. It was a great dynamic, but Presti was up against a wall with this group. Every year, some very important numbers would get larger and larger with seemingly no end in sight. The Thunder were getting older, so Presti did what he had to do.

He traded Harden.

Last season, the Thunder slipped to only the fifth youngest NBA team and second youngest playoff team. That figure was bound to get worse this upcoming season. The Thunder only drafted one player in the 2012 draft, and he happened to play two years of college (instead of the minimally required one year). Instead of maximizing their draft potential by drafting the youngest available player, they went with “best available player” from a “basketball playing ability perspective” instead. So while, yes, they replaced Derek Fisher with a 21 year old (in terms of roster spots), they didn’t get as young in the draft as they could have.

But it gets more disturbing.

According to many leading doctors and scientists, human beings age roughly one year every single year! This means every returning member of the Thunder is one year older at the start of this season than they were on the same date last year. This alone brings the average age of the entire returning roster up by about one year. It’s messed up, but true.

Someone had to go in order to maintain a certain amount of youth going forward. The combined ages of the players Oklahoma City sent out in this trade equaled 96. The combined years they got back? 49. So far with this trade, they were able to get 47 years younger. They currently have 17 players on their roster as well, so it isn’t even like they have to now sign two more players to make up for the two extra they sent out.

Even if we look at the difference of average ages included in the trade, this works out best for the Thunder in the long term. The average age going out is 24 years. The average age coming in is 24.5 — a slight increase for this year that is driven solely by Kevin Martin being an old fart at 29 years old. However, Martin is in the final year of his contract. Any damage he is doing to the Thunder’s average age only hurts them for a year. From there, they can make it rain young men with their newly acquired first and second round picks.

Part what made the Thunder exciting in the first place was that they were so young and so talented, and Harden did not fit into that future. While even the oldest of players on this team look pretty young (Perkins looks like a mean newborn), Harden looked like a dirty old hobo. The other players on the team even joked about him being an old man. What was Presti supposed to do? Let Harden ruin the locker room by spreading around his old manisms? I would certainly hope not!

Not only did Presti make a bold move to keep Oklahoma City one of the youngest teams in the league for years to come, but he got rid of a locker room killer who insisted on trying to make the team seem older than it even was. I am sure a lot of people are going to say Presti made a move “too soon” or that he should have gone all in on a “potential dynasty” or other such nonsense. Don’t listen to any of that crap. What is more important: winning titles or staying young, sexy, and cool? I think we all know the answer to that question.

Greatest Hits: NBA Players You Should Dress Up as for Halloween (Or Just Whenever)

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Let’s start this off with a reality check. Once you graduate from college, you shouldn’t be dressing up for Halloween. If a friend invites you to his/her Halloween party where you are expected to dress up, you need to get rid of that friend. If you think otherwise, I encourage you to become a grownup and then check in with me again.

Feel free to follow this flow chart for further instructions:

areyouanadultflowchart

 

Lucky for you, all these costume ideas involve you dressing up as current NBA players. If you are lucky enough, maybe you can convince an especially dumb girl that you really ARE one. And then who knows? Marriage, probably.

Matt BarnesMattBarnes

The great thing about this costume is Barnes already looks like Frankenstein’s monster or a zombie. Definitely something that was dead once, but not anymore. If nobody knows who Matt Barnes is, you can always say, “Just kidding – I’m actually a ghoul.” Be careful, though. Someone may shoot you out of pure fear if your costume is too good. Take that how you will.

Paul Pierce (the time he got stabbed)

PaulPierceThis costume will look cool whether or not anyone has any idea who Paul Pierce is. If you look enough like Pierce, dress up in night club clothes (2000 styles, though) and have fake knives coming out of your back. Maybe find a way to attach a broken bottle to your head. Make sure it looks bloody! If you don’t look a lot like Pierce, you may want to wear his jersey instead (still with the knives, bottle, and blood).

Chris Andersen

Want to look like a tall cartoon drug addict? Chris-Andersen-Haircut-Styles-300x300Andersen looks like the type of guy who REALLY DIDsay, “When I grow up, I want to be a junkie.” This costume isn’t complete without a bag full of whatever drug got Andersen banned from the NBA. Your guess is as good as mine as to what that drug actually is, so try to be creative! Just remember, it was so bad the NBA refused to disclose what it actually was, but we know it had to be one (or more) of these: amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, opiates, and PCP. Since you can’t test for LSD, I would leave that one out.

Tony Parker

TonyParkerIf you aren’t into looking scary, Parker is a great choice for a costume. It is also a great option for dudes who aren’t very tall. Just shave your head, put on your best French accent, and come up with a really good sob story about how you still love Eva Longoria, but you wish someone could come along to save you… and your heart. If you look anything like Tony Parker and don’t get laid in this costume, then I can’t help you get laid. I don’t know. You’re doing something horribly wrong, and you are beyond help or sympathy.

As a final suggestion, just find your NBA doppelganger and dress up as him. I don’t know what you look like, so I can’t account for any uncanny similarities. However, if you don’t happen to look like anyone OR (especially) if you look like someone on the above list, follow my initial recommendations. I wouldn’t lead you astray.

Greatest Hits: Rondossary (An Internet Glossary of Rondo Terms)

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Hello reader,

As you may have noticed, watching Rondo play and subsequently talking about his play requires a different kind of thinking and a varying set of terms from other players. Whether reading articles and Twitter or just talking to a bunch of buds at your local bar, water cooler, or YMCA basketball court, it can sometimes be daunting when a Ronbro (you’ll see) is dropping some Rondo logic (Rongic?) using strange but sexy terms you have never heard before. We are here to help with an ever growing Rondossary to keep fans abreast of what Rondo-related terms they need to be aware of while talking about Rondo.

Ronbros – Bros (or broettes) who are fans of Rondo. This term is not about which Ronbro is a bigger fan – it is a way to unite all Ronbros into a community of Ronbrodom (Rondmunity – see next entry). We are all Ronbros – from the guy who just likes to watch the occasional Rondo clip on Youtube to the little girl who is a diehard Celtics fan. Being a Ronbro isn’t about what makes us different – it’s about the community of Rondo love.

Rondmunity – A gathering of two or more Ronbros. Also refers to the greater community of Ronbros as a whole (including the Ronbro internet Rondmunity).

Rondobate – When someone injures your arm in the middle of self-pleasure, but you power through it with flair because you are such a badass. (definition via Boosh)

Rondo Island – The island where baby Rondos are hatched. It is part of the city of Sabang, Indonesia in the province of Aceh. Thousands of Rondo eggs are laid and hatched here every year. Rajon Rondo was the first to ever make it to the NBA. Most Rondos live their entire life on Rondo Island, playing a quick and exciting brand of basketball (although with many missed jump shots).

Rondomination – This term is courtesy of Matt Moore — it’s one of those games when Rondo becomes RONDO. It’s a game consisting of a billion Rundos. Or just one or two massive Rundos. It’s when Rajon Rondo takes over the entire game, and it seems like there are a billion Rondos all over the court. A Rondomination is a game where Rondo is an unstoppable mix of Multiple Man and the Flash.

Rondophobia – A condition where one has an unreasonable fear or hatred of admitting that Rondo is now better than their formally great (but now declining) point guard. This is closely related to Nashomania — a condition where Steve Nash fans greatly overvalue Nash while undervaluing other players (this condition is said to be the cause of Nash’s undeserved back-to-back MVP awards).

Rondosaurus – A type of basketball-playing half-man/half-dinosaur species. These animals are called “Rondos” for short.

Rundo – A point in the game when Rondo takes over and initiates a run by himself. He can do this via scoring and/or assists, but he must be directly responsible for every point scored in the run in some way for it to be considered a Rundo.

YOLONDO – A mutated version of “You Only Live Once” – now with a Rondofied punch. Anyone can do something crazy and deserving of a YOLO as an excuse to do it, but not everyone can YOLO with a Rondoesque swag.  You want to go drink an entire thirty pack of beer by yourself? YOLO. You want to go drink an entire thirty pack of beer by yourself while sky diving and shooting the engine out of the airplane after you jump? YOLONDO. If you are going to do something because YOLONDO, you have to do it with style and swag.

This Rondossary is a constant work in progress. If you have a Rondo term you believe should be included here, please email me at kal at igohardnow.com or leave a comment in this article’s comment section. We will update this page with new terms as they come in.

Greatest Hits: Quicken Loans and the Inner Conflict of the Soul

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You may have noticed that I have been mostly absent from this site for the last few weeks. I have two reasons for this absence. The first reason (and main reason) is that I don’t love you anymore. I’ve been trying to push you out of my life by ignoring you, but you haven’t gotten the hint. You just keep sticking around, and I hate it. I hate YOU. The second (and lesser reason) is that I bought a house — a process that created quite an internal dilemma for me.  You see, I got my home loan through Quicken Loans (you know, that Dan Gilbert owned company), and I hate myself for it.

I do not like the idea of giving money to ungodly rich owners who just spent nearly half a year fighting other rich people for more money without any regard for how much NBA fans were getting screwed in the entire process.  I am willing to throw my money back into the NBA again because that is something I cannot live without, but I was hoping to avoid giving the owners money via their real businesses. This is why I’ve stopped taking my weekly Carnival Cruise trips in an effort to make a big enough dent in Micky Arison’s wallet that he has to skip eating a steak for at least one of his five meals a day (only poor people limit themselves to three meals a day).

But I slipped when it came to Dan Gilbert and his mortgage company.  Quicken Loans gave me the best rate (and honestly, the best customer service), so I gave in despite my dislike for NBA owners in general and Dan Gilbert specifically. When other fans (I assume) were burning down buildings and facing a life in prison in the good fight against the corruption of the NBA owners, I was caving in — selling out. I was the rich social liberal who decided to vote republican because I wanted to keep paying a lower tax rate. Meanwhile, I got in the way of millions of teenage girls being able to take care of their little accidents.

What have I done?

When I’m the one feeding the Dan Gilbert monster — when I’m part of that problem — can I still complain about the owners? I write for a site that proposed an idea to boycott NBA owners to end the lockout. While the lockout is over, the NBA owners still don’t deserve our patronage. My only excuse is the same one that every NBA player uses when they up and leave  their team — I have to do what’s best for me and my family. Sometimes in life, you have to do something you aren’t proud of for those who matter the most — think Walter White in Breaking Bad during the first season and a half. I don’t WANT to cook meth, but my dog needs a yard… or something.

I don’t have a solution to this inner turmoil. On one hand, I’m not sure if I am justified in giving more money to someone I dislike so deeply. On the other hand, I’m not sure if I owe it to anyone to justify such actions. I only imagine this conflict with myself will be resolved one day when I create some Spacefunspawns and have bigger things to worry about other than how to shaft an NBA owner to the best of my limited ability. It may be several years down the road, but you know the old saying — kids fix everything. Right? And at least I’ll have a house to put them in when that time comes.

Thanks, Mr. Gilbert!

Greatest Hits: Losing Perspective

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I fell in love my Senior year of college. And no, I’m not talking about the cute freshman from my abnormal psych class that accidentally stood me up on a date because she took too many ‘shrooms, started tripping and forgot where we were supposed to meet up. Sorry Kate. I’m actually talking about a weird little Japanese show on G4 called Ninja Warrior.

Ninja Warrior is one of those things that is uniquely Japanese. It’s basically boils down to an insanely difficult obstacle course, composed of four stages. Each stage is made up of a variety of obstacles, and to advance you have to successfully clear all the obstacles in an extremely limited amount of time (with the exception of the third stage which is untimed, but but it’s so insanely difficult that it’d be impossible if it was). Each competition starts with 100 competitors and the competition continues until either A) all 100 competitors are eliminated, or B) someone successfully completes every obstacle. In 27 competitions, there’s only been four successful completions of the course recorded by three men. That’s right, there’s a 99.85% failure rate. Oh, making things even more difficult, is that anytime someone successfully clears the entire course, the entire thing is redone and made to be even harder.

For those of you who are uninitiated, here are two of the four victory runs. Keep in mind that the current course is now exponentially more difficult than even the last video shows:

Second Ninja Warrior Makoto Nagano’s Victory:

Third Ninja Warrior Yuuji Urushihar’s Second Victory (Stages 3 & 4 Only):

I know. It’s crazy, right? Given the insane feats of strength and intense training required, the cost of traveling back and forth from Japan twice a year for competitions and the sheer difficulty of winning, you’d think that the prize for winning would have to be similarly ridiculous, right? I mean, look at that. They have to climb 75 feet straight up in under 30 seconds and that’s after finishing three other stages that require almost superhuman strength. That’s gotta worth at least a million, right? Maybe more? Nope. $40,000. And that was after it was bumped up from $20,000. While that’s still a good chunk of change, once you factor in the time these guys put into training and the cost of travel, they are still barely breaking even.

If you’ve ever watched a tournament, you know how much the serious competitors put into winning. The first man to ever achieve “total victory”, a crab fisherman named  Kazuhiko Akiyama, continued to compete despite a degenerative condition that slowly stole his eye sight, rendering him effectively blind. After winning it all in the fourth ever competition, he only managed to pass the first stage four more times. You’ll see the competitors tiny apartments or backyards filled with various hand made versions of obstacles for them to practice on around the clock. You’ll frequently see a poor, under-attended-to spouse holding a newborn child standing on the sidelines watching their husband fail and fall head-first into the murky mud underneath the course. Hell, there was even a long-time competitor nicknamed “Mr. Ninja Warrior” who, after losing this job, did nothing but train for the competition which alienated his wife and children. He hasn’t passed the first stage in nearly a decade.

So then why do they do it? Pride. Honor. They do it for these intangible constructs that, to them, mean more than financial prize. They do it so they can be among the extreme few that can look at something that is by all reasonable estimates impossible and say, “yeah, I did that”. And while the financial reward for their feats doesn’t even begin to come close to what they’ve put into it, somehow a college student living half-way across the planet in Cleveland Ohio knows their name and that they were able to do something that 2,697 other men have failed at. That’s why they train everyday. That’s why they ignore their family, their job and everything else in their lives. It’s that competitive drive and the pride that comes from accomplishing the impossible and being forever known for being the man that was able to do the unthinkable.

Meanwhile, across the Pacific, Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen think that NBA players should be compensated to participate in the summer Olympics. These men, millionaires multiple times over, believe that they should be compensated to represent their country in the longest-running, most prestigious international competition in history because it comes shortly after the NBA season wraps up. They should be compensated because they’re tired and obviously money changes that completely. While there’s plenty of athletes that toil in obscurity that would jump at the chance to etch their name forever in history as an Olympic champion, hell, to even compete at that level, Dwayne Wade and Ray Allen are too tired. Unless of course, there’s a paycheck in it for them.

Then it’s different. Obviously.