Snakehead Revisited

Mere seconds after we'd discussed calming FreeDarko down until the rumblings of the pre-season can be heard from afar (this off-season's a wrap—Finley's actual decision will be an anti-climax, and no one in the league is smart enough to think as highly of Earl Watson as I do), something stranger than Dracula, more far-flung than Bigfoot, demanded I lay post to blog and create a sensible frog.

Walking around UT's campus this morning, I witnessed the unthinkable: a young black woman sporting a Hawks t-shirt. Not a Nique throwback, not a Josh Smith future-dweller—a plain old, red and white, "your Atlanta Hawks" tee. Granted, she had the laces to match, but if this was a fashion statement, it didn't exactly get out of the gate. This was meat and potatos, "my team" stuff.

(okay, maybe it was a throwback-ish joint, since it was red and white, bird etched in silhouette, no yellow. But if so, the style quotient was at an absolute minimum)

This was the first time I've ever seen someone display what looked like pure allegiance to the NBA's forgotten team. As I've said several hundred times, there is no reason the Hawks should be such a phantom franchise. At the risk of sounding Hitler-ish, Atlanta is the black capitol of America, basketball the blackest sport going. Why ownership can't put butts in the seats is beyond me; you'd think that, unless they put the whitest, least athletic, coach-centric team on the floor, they'd be able to draw at least some fans (they already get a reasonable amount of dap from celebrities, mostly because they live in ATL and are rich enough that they might as well buy courtside, if nothing else to see the opposing team).

The Hawks' total inability to take advantage of their location and surrounding culture is like nothing if not the predicament of the ugly, ugly New York Knicks. The Ewing teams were tough, rich with swagger, and majestic in their own, fuck you kind of way. The difference between them and the Pistons is the difference between hardened, cynical city style and urban blight (the Pistons, even today, are a beacon unto the place they call home). Yet during the Knicks recent stretch of misery, the team has been notably unable to convincingly tie themselves to the "basketball capitol of the world" legacy. Marbury was a nice step in this direction, I guess, but does the rest of that roster really scream "THE WHOLE CITY'S BEHIND US?!?!?!?!"

Yes, Knicks fans, it has come to this: announcing that you'd want to play for the Knicks is a nod toward a gilded past, not a serious statement of purpose (see Melo's SAS interview), and in the present your franchise is only slightly more competent than the Hawks.

(I did my laundry, and then this happened. . . )

After thinking about this a little more, I'll admit that the Knicks and Hawks have very different expectations surrounding them. The Hawks just need to make people care again, while the Knicks are not only sort of close to making the playoffs—they're in a city that demands winning, not just novelty. If the Hawks put together a team that piqued Atlanta's interest, or just found a way of reminding would-be fans that they are a full-fledged professional basketball franchise, it would be a virtual PR coup (albeit a no-brainer). The Knicks, on the other hand, sell out all the time no matter what, and have fans that would root for skinless Muppets if they could win in MSG. What makes Isiah's tenure so maddening is that, while success might be too much to ask, he seems pretty much set on not even acknowledging this more superficial, but equally vital, part of the bond between team and locale.


Freedarko Offseason Workout

I have gone from hating Carmelo Anthony to becoming ultimately bored with him. Indeed my softening towards Melo coincided with what seemed a public campaign to sully the man’s name (I was sort of on some rock-snob “I hated his first season better” isht). I also found myself saying, “Wow, this guy could actually be really good” while watching the Nugs’ series with the Spurs last playoffs. Then again, I said the same thing about Glenn Robinson during his second season. What I learned from Friday’s SAS’s interview with Little Dog on “Quite Frankly,” is that Carmelo is not nearly as boring nor as intelligent as I previously thought. Shoals and I attempted to “chat” the interview and expound on points Shoals has made in the past about Melo’s improbable and insurmountable level of street cred (CHECK THE ARCHIVES). As usual, wallow in our excess:

TrentonHasslesCarmelo: daaaaaaaaaamn
Bethlehem Shoals: what are you damning about?
THC: the fact that he was just like "i had to stomp him out in the back of the club"

As is now well-known, Carmelo beat the shit out of some no-name rapper, Sugar Jay, after Jay spit on his ex-girl and current Melo fiancee, Lala Vasquez. I was impressed not only by Melo’s willingness to do so, as a prominent public figure who would presumably receive scrutiny for such a beatdown, but also for his incredible stupidity for practically bragging about it on national TV (Sidenote: Possible NBA Racial Semiotics pt. 75972Y324: We hear about athletes in public brawls all the time, yet Melo beats a rapper down in Babalu Night Club and the national media barely raises an eyebrow (bats an eyelash?)…was it dismissed as "thugs just being thugs?"). After unsuccessful attempts at baiting Melo to talk trash about Lebron and Larry Brown, SASmith sticks with the public life controversy stuff…asks about Melo’s appearance on the “Stop Snitchin DVD.” Melo jokes about the success of the sales of the DVD on eBay as well as the success of the DVD-inspired t-shirts. As to be expected, Melo flips the popularidiom

BS: what if his nickname became "stop snitching"

The conversation turns to SAS asking Melo about the tumultuous period of time surrounding the Olympics fiasco, Stop Snitchin, the Marijuana in the backpack incident. Melo admits to crying during this period and seeing a therapist. Lala held him down too, evidently.

BS: melo is totally a crier
THC: odds on carmelo crying during this interview?
THC: he saw a therapist
BS: sports and therapy: a-rod and melo
BS: never artest
THC: nope
BS: artest would eat the therapist

BS: lebron would never interview this well
THC: theres no controversy with bron
THC: bron is magic pre-aids
BS: true
THC: never airness
BS: lebron still mad young though

On the heels of some godforsaken ESPN columnist (who noted that the brilliance of Michael Jordan—unlike Kobe—was that he always knew when to keep himself out of the public eye, even when infidelities or other such scandals came up), I come the realization that what separates Melo from LeBron and Wade is his ability to speak frankly about dumb ass shit. You would never catch Bron talking about having to “stomp someone out” or even catch a hot-head like Paul Pierce running off at the mouth about therapy, drugs, wanting more playing time on the olympic team, jealousy towards fellow olympians, Larry Brown “not being Jesus.” Not to mention that Melo openly stated that he would LOVE TO PLAY FOR THE KNICKS. For true stars, there is too much at stake to be honest [SHOALS HAS AN ENTIRE THEORY ON THIS THAT I IMAGINE WE WILL GET INTO]. We may never see a Lebron interview that is remotely interesting. Magic taught him how to smile. MJ taught him how to keep his mouth shut. Barkley was the only star-caliber player with true freedom of speech

BS: i actually feel like i know melo now
THC: i dont really care about melo tho
BS: i don't care about him, but i like the guy now
BS: still won't watch him
BS: the question remains: how is he street?
THC: one word
THC: baltimore

Net we cast, fifteen coaches long

With all the basketball-related content that went down at last night VMA's, how could FreeDarko not have a man on the scene to make sure we scooped Page 3? While I was at home trying to figure out why Jamie Foxx has decided that taking over for Ray Charles in real life is a sound career move, Andreo was taking it all in and periodically texting me with updates. In a perfect world, he would write this himself. But since, ironically, El Huracan hath been felled in the electricity department by a real life hurricane, I am honorably presenting the abridged version (for maximum reader comfort) of our evening-long exchange. I only hope that I can do his reporting justice.

El Huracan Andreo: Rashad McCants sighting at the VMA's.

Bethlehem Shoals: I just told someone that you were probably there. Did Shakira get her nose done? Who was McCants with?

EHA: Waltzing around with no posse. R. Kelly sucks. Shakira has gotten everything done.

BS: Are you kidding? WORLD PREMIER!!!! Where are you sitting?

EHA: Club level. With the politicos.


BS: That Wade/Shaq cuddle was classic.

EHA: Get on the bandwagon, you sellout. It drives me to drink that you doubt so hard.

BS: I was serious, though didn't like the dig at #8. Who's 50's date?

EHA: Don't know. I think Kanye has proven that Kobe's failure wasn't class or situation-driven but pure personality. I smell blog entry.

BS: Good point, but West is a total egomaniac and like 8, a lot of people would love to see him fall

In a post-game phone call, Andreo confirmed that the city did indeed surround the Crackster with security after he insulted 50's personal army, and that the prevailing, quasi-scientific opinion is that Suge popped himself. All in all, another massively eventful VMA's weekend, and you should thank your lucky stars that we, and not some self-serving media outlet, could give you the view from within.

And an as-of-yet undisclosed FreeDarko prize will go to anyone who can explain McCants's presence at the Awards. THC insists it's the Hova connection, but Young's attentions seemed to be firmly focused on his date for the evening,


Our sport is perfect

A few weeks ago, I got this shiver of anticipation for the NBA season. As in, if I have this much fun with the off-season, once the real thing starts I'll be through the roof.

In light of recent events in some of the other major sports, I'd like to send you on your way this weekend with a brief, fortune-cookie-like synposis of why, despite it all, we Assocation devotees will have the last laugh.

1. No steroids problem

2. No unnecessary threat of death, drowning, or mutilation

3. Magical race relations

4. No bullshit pretense about how professional athletes behave

5. Decent labor situation: management not hog-tied, players not living in fear

6. Fans that know the whole league, not just their team

7. Will never, ever prompt a column like this from self-made lightning rod Scoop Jackson.

8. Parity isn't crippling, dynasties that earn it

9. Storylines for days.

10. Because we are the fucking future.

And in case you think I got a little too militant there, here's a heartwarming image that makes my point better than anything above it (except for the other photo, which was supposed to do the same thing but isn't quite as obvious)


One more 'gain

So maybe the Artest interview with SAS was weak, but tomorrow will deliver the mighty unto us. ESPN Hollywood, Page 3 made flesh, will feature a segment on Artest in the studio. Expect exclusive footage and some serious lyrical wizardry.

ESPN2, 6:00 Eastern. We won't let you down this time.

Speaking of SAS, wasn't Melo supposed to be on today? Would it kill them to make a site for that show, or at least post a schedule?

[A quick search of ESPN's website found that SAS does indeed have a site for the show and that Melo will be today's guest. Peep the updated links. --Recluse]

Too much humble

I know we're all supposed to praise Marvin Williams for wanting to learn, admitting he's young and relatively green, wanting to be a real student of the game. But this photo from the gallery in this month's Dime is a little out of control.

This is a step beyond Duncan's sheepishness, Wade's manners, Nash's introspection, the deference before the Lord common to football and occasionally seen in the Association (more in college?), or the Aaron McKie school of what Big Baby once christened "the all-janitor team." Dude is blankly waiting for the bus, by a parking garage, dressed like he just finished mowing someone's lawn. In principle, this should really annoy me, but instad I think it's kind of bad-assed. Like no one, no one, can fuck with how humble he is.

p.s. Anyone else who's looked at the gallery—is Warrick standing in front of a Bentley, or one of those Chryslers that looks like one? And if it is a Bentley, who the fuck puts a tree-shaped air freshener in a Bentley? Is that hood or straight dress-up box?

Thursdays with Thurl: Whitefolks Blowout!

Two things about having a strong Croatian readership, they’re not too big into rap/soul/etc. and they have been on my ass about writing a Mario Kasun profile (COMING SOON). The Croats had a terribly difficult time making out the lyrics to the Twista track I posted last week, so I decided to switch gears this Thursday and give em something a little bit, well, milkier…Thurl, I now turn it over to you…

…Thanks, son. First, I must apologize. Masha Lopatova (that’s Mrs. Andrei Kirilienko to you) dropped off a CD with her hit single, “Sakharniy” (Sugary) at my house the other day (Utah neighbors!), and I can’t find it anywhere. It’s a huge hit in Russia right now, and really wanted to post it for all of our Eastern European friends. Instead, I will start things off on the heels of yesterday’s hot discussion of Catholicism with Jim Carroll’s “Catholic Boy” from The Basketball Diaries. The soundtrack to this movie—a biopic of Carroll’s rise as a Catholic High School basketball star and his descent into heroin and other Please Kill Me type sketchy shit—supposedly features a version of this song with Pearl Jam (huge Sonics fans!), but this is the real deal right here:

Jim Carroll: “Catholic Boy”

Next up is a track from Drums & Tuba, a New York duo(?) who specializes in songs consisting of only two instruments (Big T isn’t telling which ones, though!). They sort of epitomize the freejazz/rock/klezmer type scene that was really big at Tonic in New York at the end of the 20th century, and that TrentonHassles wasn’t cool enough to be up on when he began living out East. The hoops connection to this track runs deep. First of all, the track is entitled “Scottie Pippen.” Second, this track is from the album, The Flying Ballerina, reissued by My Pal God Records, a New Jersey label owned by Princeton Hoops enthusiast, Jon Solomon, who also runs the site: www.princetonbasketball.com

Drums & Tuba: “Scottie Pippen”

Last is a track that—love it or hate it—you should all be familiar with. It’s the Beastie Boys Bill Laimbeer diss track, “Tough Guy,” from Ill Communication. Clocking in at just under a minute, this song fails to ruin a very solid album from the Beastie Boys that also included numerous references to an Anthony Mason-driven Knicks squad. Around this time, Slam put out its first issue, which profiled a pick-up game involving Mason, the Beastie Boys, and Q-Tip. Better times those were, for all involved.

Beastie Boys: “Tough Guy”

As always, Big T says…..ennnnjoy.


Their crowns in a gnarl

I'm not just an incredibly uneven, amateurish sports sage—I am also a man. That's why, from time to time, I find myself engaged in some embarrassingly earnest basketball soul-searching, most often of the "when am I actually going to appreciate smart, veteran teams that have a prayer of winning a championship variety." Yesterday, though, as I stepped into the shower and congratulated myself on having lived through another day of triple-digit Lone Star heat, I was struck by a brand new strain of conscience: the booming question of "am I losing my NBA edge?" The parcel that held this proud fact, dear reader, was none other than the impending Miami Heat mega-roster, Finley or no Finley.

I've already begun to back pedal on some mid-summer assertions that the Suns will still be the most breathless show in town (thanks for nothing, Mr. Hollinger), and I'm about ready to concede that, post-Hughes, the Wiz will often slow to an uneventful crawl. But these are the trials of a man and his faith, and quite frankly are none of your fucking business. I wore the cross for these pirates, and I certainly have the right to have some over-emotional reactions to their off-season upheavels. Ditto for Kobe, who I've been such a tireless supporter of that I think I've earned the right not only to criticize him, but also to flagrantly contradcit myself and confuse others on the subject of him. Theological debates are spirited internal debates on the fine points of a system of belief, not shattering attempts to reconsider the nature of things from scratch, and if you want good, sound scouting on the Wizards and Suns, you've come to the wrong Wizards and Suns-obsessed blog.

But what truly tears at my fine, fine inner fabric is my complete and total inability to warm up (take the pun, stab me with it) to the new Heat roster. When it all went down, my reaction to it was surpsingly conservative—I thought it was a bad move that seemed like a surefire exercise in how not to build a contendor, much less put a near-Finalist over the top. Even when Andreo and some of the FreeDarko faithful called me on my uncharacteristic plea for sanity, order, and responsibility, I stuck to these guns I had never before fired as my own, to the point where I began to wonder if I wasn't secretly making myself the victim of an inside joke.

The thing is, I've always been a Toine supporter, largely because of his incongruous mix of versatility and single-minded retardation, basketball IQ-heavy leadership and abysmal decision-making. And White Chocolate, well, you simply can't find a more complex player in the Association, from the standpoint of racialized politics and total style overload. Poesy, too, gets the thumbs-up, for having logged some of the least meaningful triple-doubles in NBA history (during his Denver days), and just generally teased us with his ability so much that we've taken his inconclusiveness for granted. Put these three with Shaq, who can make anyone teammate credible (Damon Jones, anyone?) and Wade, who isn't nearly as much of a one-trick pony as Amare, and you've got the ideal collision of style and substance. In short, a motley crew for the ages.

Yet still I balk. Maybe it seems to easy, the idea that Toine and J-Will could find redemption through Shaq's forceful benevolence. Maybe I want to see Wade fight, work, and grow into a Kobe or LeBron-like virtuoso, rather than be pencilled in as a known quantity that's unstoppable off the dribble (that or I want to change to be proven wrong for having ever slighted him in the first place). The bottom line is that these are uneasy negotiations, where Toine and J-Will's eccentricities will be a constant threat to what the Heat have in mind. They will live in fear, and I will bite my nails as I wait and see just how much fun this team will be allowed to have, how much things will revolve around Shaq (did anyone actually enjoy watching the Lakers close out games by dumping it inside six million times?). It's also a little disturbing to me that, while the backcourt could set the world on fire several hundred times over, it's the Shaq-anchored frontline that's the Heat's key to ultimate victory. And with tension already mounting over exactly who will start at the fwd's, you've got to think these are the first signs of a battle that, even if it in the end involves a good deal of style and uncontrollable basketball joy, will live in the shadow of "the right way."

I'd rather see them die than see them fly.


Sometimes I Dream...That He is Me

Forget the fact that even Yahoo is now swooping in on our slang ("Troubled Griffin," copyright Recluse), but check out who Eddie Griffin has blossomed into in the offseason here.


Various sources have reported that the Pistons have signed Dale Davis, which means two things:

- our hero is again relegated to the end of the bench. We all know that Pound for Pound doesn't like to play young players, but is that also true of Flip? Maybe it's not a coincidence that the Wolves just signed all those young guys. But, you don't sign Dale Davis if you're not going to play him, and if you're Dale Davis, you don't sign with a team that isn't going to give you some PT. It looks like he's primed to take over those Elden Campbell minutes backing up the Wallaces and the Diceman. So much for all the talk that Darko was finally going to be freed this season.

- Finley is going to Miami. It's been speculated that Fin was down to the Pistons and the Heat, and now Detroit can't afford to sign him. I still don't understand why players do this. Why go to a team with D-Wade, Antoine Walker, and James Posey when you could be starting for Western Conference contenders in Denver or Phoenix? I know that I argued (in these here comments) that the Heat's offseason moves have made them the favorites in the East, but it's not like they're guaranteed a championship all of a sudden. That's a whole lot of new pieces to integrate into a team. If it were me, I'd rather get mine on a likely playoff team and see what happens. But, then again, I'm not a thirty-two year old NBA veteran; I'm a twenty-nine year old overeducated library clerk. What the fuck do I know?



I'd been looking for a wacky picture of McCants to puncuate the post just down the stairs from here. I came across this, which doesn't really do that, but does so, so much more that it should be allowed to speak for itself.

Stakes is oiqwjeoifgjjry,

(KG has to be the one at the head of the table with the yellow-ish suit, Jaric's the one rocking the white hat by the wheel, Madsen is the shaggy one looking nuts next to Garnett, Wally is the faux-dapper one all the way to the left, TG is in the corner on the right looking even more nuts. . . THC, some help here?)

The T-Wolves' impending trip to Vegas is old internet news by now, but, at the risk of stepping on THC's toes, I did want to point out some all-too-obvious jokes that no one's made. First off, you take a roster that includes the unhinged McCants, the brittle, oversexed Jaric, and the Troubled Griffin himself to the gambling capitol of the world? You don't have to be on staff at AOL to understand the irony of that idea. If you were a grouchy cynic, you could also bring the sky crashing down in groans with the suggestion that the Wolves are playing a certain Slavic variety of this fine game of chance.

Then there's the fact that, as much as we've always thought of the Wolves as a classy organization that was temporarily hijacked by the madcap likes of Spree and Cassell, maybe they're far more interested in personality than we'd ever dreamt. KG, for all his warrior-like prowess and tireless motivation, is kind of a weirdo (at least on the court). Maybe this newest roster overhaul, and a trip to a place that can do nothing but foster insanity in the heart of team chemistry, is an attempt to get back some of what they lost what Spree and Cassell's departure. Not that it really needs to be cultivated, but some of these cats are young, and Taylor may want to send them a message that it's alright to be a loon—provided you play. Following the model of KG, as they should've forever ago, or chasing whatever it was that got them to the brink of the Finals two years ago.

If this is the Wolves undoing, at least no one can accuse Taylor and McHale of conservatism. T-Wolves, welcome to the timeless FreeDarko party; as THC pointed out last week, expect a long, long ride down for your troubles.


Dick Dancing with David

After reading this biopic on David Harrison at
Deadly Hippos written by one of his CU teammates, I think Freedarko may have a new favorite backup center on its summer league team. I want to just post the whole damn article, but here are some highlights:

During a visit to Taco Bell very early one morning in Boulder, David initiated an altercation with another vehicle by cutting them off and skipping them in the drive-thru window. He then encouraged and challenged current deadlyhippos writer, JT that he wouldn’t “slap the guy that we just cut off behind us.” Please take into consideration that the only characteristic that JT has consistently shown during my 6 years of knowing him is that when he is “dared” to do something, he ALWAYS obliges, especially when the action has a disrespectful tone to it. JT exited the vehicle and it was not 10 seconds before he was coming back toward our vehicle. He got in and he was followed a few seconds later by an enraged man carrying a knife, who apparently had just been slapped. David exited the vehicle and the man continued his incensed attitude and said to David, “I don’t have to take this shit man; that shit was uncalled for.” David meanwhile was staring at the man and just had this to say to him; “You are right, you shouldn’t have to take that, but what else can you do. I will give you two options, one, you can hand me the knife and get back in your car and drive away; this is the option I suggest you take. Two, I will take your knife and use it on you.” The man handed the knife to David and angrily returned to his vehicle.

When preparing to cheer on our beloved Colorado Buffs against the hated and welfare-driven CSU (Colorado State) Rammies, we looked for appropriate attire for the football contest in Denver. The game began at 11am, so pre-drinking had to take place at 5am. I selected some jeans and a Colorado practice jersey and assumed David would think along the same lines. He emerged from his room wearing a wife-beater with the words, “Fuck CSU” affectionally emblazed on the front, written in shoe polish. We then went to our friend Will Anderson’s home, where David took Will’s CU flag off the wall and used it as a cape. After drinking heavily, we boarded a bus for Invesco field, the site of another drubbing CU gave to CSU. Rumor has it, several CSU fans took exception to my friend’s attire and one even approached him and squared off. He swung and missed and probably does not remember much after that. Harrison when asked what happened at a later date, said, “I had to show that fucker where I was from.”

The “dick dance” is something he enjoys doing. He will remove his clothes and allow his member to swing back and forth in front of a surprised victim or victims. The most notable occurrence of this was in college after practice. The coaches have a separate locker room door from the players and he knocked on the door and waited for the inhabitants to open. Once they did, he stood there naked, made eye contact with all of them, placed both his hands behind his head for dramatic effect, and began doing his famous dance.


Thursdays with Thurl: Takin it back to '04 (and '84)

Hello Freedarko faithful, it's Thurl Bailey. Back for my second column and here to drop more musical gems on you. Today's first two selections come from Twista and J-Zone, both depicting the NBA world of 2004, an era that seems like eons ago even though (ostensibly) only a year has passed. If anything, these songs help make me realize how irrelevant that time was for The Association (pre-Lebron really taking flight, post-Kobe announced as rapist, etc.).

I have sort of fallen off the J-Zone map, but I love the guy's first three albums, and he knows his hoops. Evidently he has a song called "A Friendly Game of Basketball" in which he disses rappers who hoop and hoopers who rap. Excellent concept, but I instead decided to go with his 2004 NBA Preview, "Alley Oop." I believe this song was released on its own as a single and wound up on some Fat Beats compilation. Hilarious assessment of the Trailblazers and the Knicks. By the way, if you see this, Zone, and want us to take it down, holler at us.

J-Zone: "Alley Oop"

The Twista joint--a promotional "freestyle" for NBA Live 04--reminds us that it was not long ago when you could boast of a "big 3" featuring McDyess, Sprewell, and Allan Houston. Ah, the glory days that were 2004.

Twista: "NBA Live 2004 Freestyle" (turn the volume up)

Finally, because you know Big T likes to get smoove with it, here is a throwback from The Master, Marvin Gaye. This is his controversial and legendary rendition of the National Anthem at what would also be Marvin's last public appearance. Kelly Tripucka and Otis Birdsong (I kid you not) helped lead the East to a 154-145 victory that year.

Marvin Gaye: "Star Spangled Banner at 1984 All-star game"

As always, Thurl says...ennnjoy.

Pop off

I have faith that someone is going to bother to trudge through my HERE WE ARE/FACE TO FACE manifesto below (not sure exactly when I picked up THC's habit of typing in caps, esp. since I still keep the italics close), but I would be truly remiss in my duties if I didn't make sure every last soul of the tropics heard about the following (courtesy of the indispensable InsideHoops):


InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner reports that the Minnesota Timberwolves and Chicago Bulls have some interest in famous streetball player Larry "Bone Collector" Williams. The player informed Lenchiner that both Chicago and Minnesota have expressed interest in giving him a workout in the near future. InsideHoops.com considers Bone Collector the most entertaining streetballer on the scene today.

This is probably the worst idea I've heard all off-season, but if anyone's sick enough to make the NBA heed the fiery sails of streetball, it's him. Skip, for all his fanfare and moderate success, has hardly been a basketball prophet; if anything, his background's been a hindrance on the road to becoming a passable point guard with questionable judgment and an itchy trigger finger. He's basically a less potent Jamal Crawford, but with the burden of untoward hype. BC would have no choice but to do shit his way, since he doesn't have that Division I grooming to fall back on.


Stepping from behind a curtain, through the fake smoke and into a gloomy setting, Andrew Bogut was yesterday presented by Nike as The Bogey Man. Melbourne Herald-Sun

Really, isn't Kobe in all his torment and anti-heroic ambivalence preferable to a lumbering white creep who lives in a dark room and scurries like a rat when called to stand in the light?

Nike's new Kobe campaign is one of the smartest things they've ever done, but apparently they're still feeling some need to hedge their bets with endorsements. Why not give my boy McCants (also signed to Nike) a commercial instead?

How Terrell Owens saved the NBA and SAS probably should

I’m going to drop a real bombshell here: some of us in the FreeDarko lair of healing pay a little attention to football. It’s nearly impossible to be a fan of sport in America and not get swept up in at least the beginning and end of the NFL season, when it seems like the fate of our entire civilization hangs in the balance. And since wide receivers might as well be NBA players*, I don’t see how any remotely responsible hoops fans can’t be closely following the recent T.O. and Randy Moss storylines (such definitive wideouts that they actually are semi-professional basketball players).

*Me, I’m partial to creative backs, since making tacklers miss in tight spaces is analogous to breaking someone down off the dribble. But that comparison depends on knowing something about football and using the imagination; WR’s have to beat a single defender (or a individual-based zone), jump a lot, make the highlight reels, act like they did it all themselves, showboat, and lap up the spotlight as a reflex. Factor in the similarity in body type, and it’s the obvious entry-point for anyone more familiar with basketball than football (if those people actually exist outside of a few FreeDarko-ites who shall remain nameless).

(I’m hoping someone will stick up for right about now)

The parallels are so glaring that Owens and Moss are actually capable of turning the NFL into the NBA, one trope at a time. Owens’s recent drama feeds directly off of the NBA player’s newfound right to demand a trade, the dirty little secret that no one in the Association wants to talk about. Moss, the selfish headcase with attitude problems, a rep for coach-killing, and nearly infinite potential, has managed to convince the usually unforgiving NFL that, given a second chance and the freedom to reach maturity as a talent, he’s now ready to step up, harness his capabilities, and lead on all fronts. If that ain’t the story of Iverson’s career, I don’t know what is; when similar things go down in NFL, if ever, it usually involves a “cancer” allowing himself to be subsumed by the team concept, like Corey Dillion with the Pats. That’s textbook football ethics, and it’s no accident that Sheed’s “redemption” with the Pistons is forced to fit that mold (I’m saying, Detroit is the football of the NBA).

What it’s really made me think about, though, is that, in the same way that Iverson, Kobe, Toine, Ricky Davis, and Marbury are all very different “difficult” ballers, flashy receivers take very different paths to get to the same place. The secret here is that Moss, for all his embarrassing flaws, wants badly to win, thinks he can do it better than anyone, and has the kind of volatile, unpredictable interior monologue that doesn’t mix well with complicated, disappointing, or compromising situations. Owens, on the other hand, is possibly the most vile professional athlete of our era, a prodigiously gifted performer who’s almost indifferent to the game itself or any on-field action beyond himself. In short, he’s a worse NBA villain than even the NBA itself has to offer, and his rep’s reliance on natural ability, sheer virtuosity, and one-man myth-building is straight out of the Rucker. And I’m saying this as someone who can’t stand the Eagles front office, would rather watch Owens than any other receiver (Moss just doesn’t get the ball as often), and could end up naming my firstborn Rucker Shoals.

But just because I give Moss the benefit of the doubt, doesn’t mean that I find him particularly intriguing as a personality. Bottom line is, basketball players are more complex figures than their football counterparts—and we’re talking about receivers, the NFL’ers most likely to be tagged as “enigmatic,” “mercurial,” or “eccentric” (Clinton Portis is the exception that proves the rule). Football is a soldier’s game, while the NBA, well, it’s more like auditioning for Mortal Kombat (and remember, every fighting game has its equivalent of effective role players, big dumb centers, and characters no one ever wants to be, for reasons as personal as they are practical). As long as he's a football player, Moss will alway be more like a colorful, unpredictable grunt than a member of The Dirty Dozen; the NBA may be a league of stars, but it’s also a player’s league, which is why even the coach seems more and more like "that older guy" than a four-star general.

What this really means is that, like it or not, it’s a league of individuals. Even the most workaday NBA guy is concerned with having an identity, a style, a self to assert on the court—even if, paradoxically, it’s “team guy” (does it even make any sense to call someone in the NFL a “team guy?”). A good deal of the drama in a Moss or Owens comes from the tension between individuality and team spirit; with Iverson or Kobe, that’s by far the least interesting, most rote, aspect of either one’s personae. Owens, like Keyshawn, spends most of his time just asserting himself without ever adding much substance to it.

Owens may be so NBA it hurts, but he’s kind of missed the point of the NBA identity. He’s the NBA as its worst critics imagine it to be (at this point, I’d like to offer up shoefly favorite Chad Johnson as the only receiver whose sense of self could hack it in the NBA). These people imagine the NBA ego to be purely a function of petulance, defiance of authority, and degradation of the team game; talk to any NBA player, and I guarantee you’ll find that having individual game (and self-awareness of it) is a prerequisite for being a part of meaningful team chemistry.

You may have noticed that, after much fanfare, Stephen A. Smith’s interview with Artest came and went without any comment from the FreeDarko staff. It’s because, as much as the press (Smith included) want to label Ron Ron “an enigma,” he’s really not much of one. Artest was a total disappointment, admitting that he has a temper, saying that he’s learned that he needs to control himself in certain situations, but that he’s from the hood and not about to back down. To me, that’s just as clear-cut as Owens’s spirited problems with being stuck in a team game, or Moss’s bizarre, narcissistic reactions to the trials and tribulations of life in the National Football League. With Artest, we all expected to find a man we could separate from the Brawl, some complex of impulses that transcended sports (unlike, say Moss’s tantrums, which are relevant only to football and really don’t tell you much about Moss as a whole, or T.O.’s antics, which are him chafing at the limitations of football). Unfortunately, there just wasn’t much beneath the surface.

Basketball is the only sport where you can justifiably find the man in the on-field performance, for the simple fact that it’s a sport predicated on deciding for yourself who you are and owning that. Whether it’s a matter of refining your style, or deciding how you want to interact with teammates, that shit can only come from inside—there’s no such thing as a scheme or system in the NBA, and even what you decide to work on in the gym goes back to what kind of player you feel compelled to be. Artest, however, turned out to be fairly simplistic as a person, and, like Owens or Moss, all the ambiguity came from friction between him and the nature of the game.

The most you could say about Artest is that he’s an intensely competitive guy who's prone to fly off the handle, and that this doesn’t mix well with the relatively non-violent game he so excels at (also worth noting: aside from his single-minded defense, Artest really doesn’t have much in the way of style). Even Marbury, arguably the most straightforwardly “difficult” star in this league, brings more intricate baggage to the court. You can’t tell me that a serious interview with Marbury wouldn’t end up being not only about the fact that he hogs the ball and can’t run an offense (team-oriented, me-first shit) but also how he approaches the game as an individual, the root of the cockiness, his back story, the hood, the mixture of joy and pain that motivates him, what it’s been like to be a prodigy since forever, the NYC point guard lineage. . . some of these might be a stretch, but you’d doubtlessly find out that a conflicted player reflects a conflicted soul. Artest, by comparison, is dull unless you’re waiting to see if he’ll let his aggression get the best of him. That, my friend, is some NFL shit.

Conversely, whatever style you see in Owens, Moss, and any other distinguished skill players is first and foremost about playmaking, with the personal dimension drowned out by that game, that team, that season. With “difficult” basketball pros, style deepens our sense of their “difficulty” (it’s equivocal because I wrote it that way); if Owens and Moss dare to announce their style to the world, the principle of it gets the attention, specifics be damned.

Isn’t it about time we all admit that the reason Stephen A. Smith’s show seemed so promising is that only he could deliver us the whole story of what we’re seeing on the court? Artest may have been a dud, but can’t he still do for Garnett, Kobe, Webber, Jermaine O’Neal, Arenas, Nash, Duncan, T-Mac, Payton, Ray Allen, Spree, Sheed, Big Ben, LeBron, the Franchise, Yao, Vince, Shaq, Melo. . . there’s a reason the NBA has an All-Interview Team, and why there have been so many casually classic interviews in the Sunday Conversation or with John Thompson. At the risk of blowing what little credibility I have left after writing this, we want to get to the bottom of all of them as people, exactly because the sport makes us think we’d find something there. And while in some cases this might be an illusion, it’s the relationship between their front-and-center game time selves and the people they may or may not reflect that makes all of them more “enigmatic” than Owens or Moss.

(Don't be surprised if I edit the living fuck out of this thing at some point tomorrow. But I've spent way too long fretting over this to not just throw this up here and see what happens)


Darko Notes

SPREE TO THE D(troit). There is nowhere I'd rather see Spree. When he's not on the Wolves, I'm a Sprewell guy to the fullest, and let's just state the obvious that a season full of Spree-Sheed camaraderie would be outstanding entertainment.

Mark Cuban had a choice of releasing Tariq Abdul Wahad and saving $15mil in luxury taxes, but decided to save $36mil more by releasing the PILLAR OF THE ORGANIZATION to a pack of hungry contenders. Fin is nowhere near the same stratosphere that contract headaches Brian Grant and Jerome Williams are in. This whole amnesty clause bizness is madness. It'll be like the Payton-Mailman-Lakers saga every year, except without the ethical dilemmas.

Scoop Jackson's writing, FUNNY LIKE FUNNY PEOPLE:

"The month-long attempt to try to get [Joe Johnson] to relocate from PHX to ATL has become more comical than the Pamela Anderson roast that Comedy Central recently televised."



Welcome to the Great White North

When I heard that Sam Cassell had been traded from my Wolves to The Clips for Marko Jaric, my initial thoughts on this trade were--in response to Shoals' Hunter/Philly post--TEAM OF WHITE FAN FAVORITES? Although Hoiberg is now certainly out for the year with a heart condition (by the way, why are heart conditions like the new plantar fascitis? No one gets them for like 10 years and then suddenly theres a rash of them...Curry, Turiaf, Hoiberg...,WATCH OUT JAHIDI WHITE...this is somewhat similar to how sharp comebackers have been sidelining MLB pitchers quite a bit this season, when last year it was a whole bunch of guys fouling balls off their shins, but I digress...), a given 5-man lineup (YES I AM REPOSTING THIS) could have looked like:

1 - Jaric

2 - Hoiberg
3 - Wally World
4 - Skita
5 - Madsen

And when your only notable season ticket holder is this guy,

you are talking about putting WHITE fans in WHITE seats. This is the same fanbase who blames Sam and Spree single(double?)handedly for last years misadventure. Me personally? I blame Troy Hudson's inability to penetrate and Flip's rotations. Shoals, more potently, offered this lineup:

PG: jaric
SG: mccants

SF: troubled griffin

C: Kandiman

Now, reality aside (by the end of the season, Griffin will be starting C with Wally at SF), this lineup made me wonder if the Wolves have gone from contender to the purgatorial status of Freedarko cult classic (see Bulls, Wiz, 05-06 Warriors, etc.). They are all style, all risks, all caricature (NOT "character"). Currently, the headcase count is at 3 (Griff, Kandi, McCants), the Euro count is at three (Skita, Jaric, Ebi--INCLUDED), and the goofy white guy count is at FOUR (Skita, Madsen, Jaric, Wally). Aside from Trenton Hassell, my rock and my redeemer, WHO DOES KG HANG OUT WITH on this team? I mean, isnt this the type of situation that gets stars groaning?

So where does this leave the Timberwolves? Better, I think. I love Jaric's game. And he is perfect in the Ridnour/Daniels type system that new coach Dwane Casey is bringing. Jaric can penetrate and dish with the best of them, and when he doesnt have to create his own shot (see, NEVER in the past with the Clippers), he can knock it down. If the
guy can stay healthy, he's good for 10, 6, and 1.5 steals a night.

Completely disregarded by the pundits at large (except for one anonymous commentor on our own site), is that this trade has now FULLY (I say fully because they were on their way) CATAPULTED the Clips into Freedarko cult classic status. A Mobley-Cassell backcourt? Are you kidding me? You want to talk about style? You want to talk about mean? You want to
talk about poisoning the mind of another young 6-7 point guard who may become the closest thing to Magic since the days of showtime?

"Yo Cat...can you hear me? Some day...you and me...we're gonna run this league."

Silence is golden

(never been entirely clear on what an ombudsman does, but this should probably be his job, not mine)

It shouldn't come as any surprise that we've made some half-hearted attempts to get on the SportsGuy's Daily Links page. I mean, we did get that one highly ambiguous shout-out from Eric Neel, but from a marketing standpoint, getting a mention in the land of Simmons would be second only to the time that Billups briefly emerged from the wilds of retirement to bless us with a link.

Now, I've always assumed that recognition was the highest form of flattery. Fuck an imitation; who wants props from someone who can't even come up with something original on their own? But after viewing Monday's installment of the Daily Links, it's the hush-hush that shows you've really made it. Tell me it's not a little suspicious that this photo of Peja heads up this latest batch, atttributed to "some nameless wonder," only two business days after it defines our EuroDigest for the ages. Sure, anyone could find the original source over google, but why's the SportsIntern off doing an image search for amusing pictures of Peja (hardly an NBA player anyone cares about during the off-season) unless someone's following our lead?

I get it now. ESPN can't say our name, can't print our URL, because we're the competition. We get the gentlemanly "nameless wonder," but to actually declare FreeDarko.com to the world would be irresponsible business.

Come on Simmons, show your outsized disciples some love.



(artwork courtesy of some kid in Japan, presumably done during better times)

They could have saved forty mill by dropping Houston (though not necessarily helped their cap situation). Instead, they let go of one of the few players on their roster with the slightest bit of heart, grit, or hustle, and opt to save twenty million less. I don't usually think in these terms when it comes to sports, but think what that money could do for a squalid patch of refugees in some far-flung corner of the world? Dolan may think he owes Houston some good will, but don't the truly unfortunate of this world deserve his largesse more than a washed-up anti-Semite?

shoefly proposed earlier this summer that, after twenty-plus years of obsessive Knick fandom, he's earned the right to walk away at this point if he so wishes. He's more than held up his end of the deal, through thick and thin; the Knicks, never more so than today, are simply not deserving of your love anymore.

Larry Brown or no Larry Brown, this is not a real NBA franchise. They've fallen below the Clippers or the Baby Blazers in terms of credibility and organizational acumen, and at least the Hawks have a viable roster and some players we're interested in watching. I've got a soft spot for Jamal Crawford, but he belongs with Darius Miles on the All-Profligate team. And Marbury long ago set the template for "game like what, but secretly not all that interesting" that I've been fruitlessly trying to foist upon Wade since I burned out on him in the playoffs.

This Nate Robinson era had better be good. I'm praying and praying that's the parallels between


are merely incidental.

P.S. Man, I'm really feeling that Jefferson/Marion Nike commercial. Nothing fancy, just good natured jawing and some reasonably unvarnished close angle action from two of the Association's two most affable, entertaining, and low-profile All-Stars. Instead of superhumanity, it's on some "that's how they do it" shit that's a breath of fresh air, especially when you're dealing with freakish players that it would be easy to fetishize.


State of the Euros

We all know the Pejas, Rebracas, and the distinguished likes of Slava “Serbian Salley” Medvendeko. But in a league increasingly populated by international players, there are more and more obscure men from overseas that FreeDarko feels obliged to stay abreast of. To save you the trouble, here is a fleeting guide to the forgotten men of the Euro revolution, featuring commentary from three of this blog’s very own conveyors of spine.

Andriuskevicius, Martynas

Bethlehem Shoals: NBA.com does not announce to us from what team Andy currently belongs to. Something inside me says the Cavs; is he the Arvydas protégé with the short arms? Short arms are the new small hands.

TrentonHasslesCarmelo: Once projected as a top 3 pick. I feel like Mark Cuban has something to do with the guy, but I'm not sure exactly what. His last name translates to "will have foot problems"

Brown Recluse: At one point Marty was seen as a potential lottery pick, until teams realized he was 7-3 and weighed less than Darvin Ham.

Barbosa, Leandro

BS: On the cusp of departing this list. Forever known as “he who could not back up Nash,” thus setting into motion all that was crumbling about the Suns’ summer. Brazilian point guard with overly long arms, could have been my favorite player ever.

THC: Unfairly criticized for choking during the playoffs...Seemed like the one guy on the Suns who didnt really hang out with the other guys (i.e. not the guy you would catch dancing at Q's birthday party).

BR: Once known as the "Brazilian Gary Payton," the Suns are now hoping he can at least be the "Brazilian Devin Harris."

Biedrins, Andris

BS: From what I hear, he is one of the many Euros who have found a place to live at Golden State. He is impossibly thin and a little soft, but could be versatile big man, no? Him and most others on here.

THC: I've got a good feeling about this guy. I think Chris Mullin will soon prove that he is the Anti-RobBabcock, taking huge awful draft gambles...but winning?!!?!?!!

BR: At one point last season, the Warriors had a prodigious trio of Euros in Biedrins, (Free)Zarko, and Tskita. This is the guy they think can actually play. Watch your back, Troy Murphy!

Brezec, Primoz

BS: You just a slave. Primoz is the Slovenian Collins brother that never was and will not be unknown for much longer.

THC: The fact that Brezec was putting up 16 and 11 with greater regularity than one would think makes him the physical embodiment of the phrase, "The center position is not what it once was.

BR: Early last season, I was seriously contemplating moving to Charlotte to become Primoz's legal advisor, that's how much faith I had in this man. Unfortunately, I predict a step backwards this season, as Okafor will steal some minutes at the 5, so that young buck Sean May can play the 4.

Cabarkapa, Zarko

BS: Once, in print, I half-jokingly suggested that Zarko would win ROY. The most melodious Euro name yet devised by man or beast.

THC: Zarko's on the Warriors too? Holy shit.

BR: Shoals' favorite Euro.

Delfino, Carlos

BS: The only Argentine that can’t find instant fame in the Association. Now he risks being confused with a Puerto Rican unless he can make the back-up job his own.

THC: Interpol's favorite basketball player. Come on, Detroit, stand up for yourselves. I want to see the "CARLOS X 2" signs. I can imagine Carlos D, Darko, Melo, and a roundtable of other young foreigners (remember Melo is from PR) conspiring to have Larry Brown assassinated.

BR: [Editor's Note: The Recluse claims to have an "insurmountable mental block" when it comes to writing one or two basically mal-informed and silly sentences about Carlos Delfino, despite "knowing more about him than almost anyone else on this list."]

Diaw, Boris

BS: Came into this league touted as the French Scottie Pippen. Not a current All-Star—an all-timer. This was the beginning of the end of “tremendous upside” speculation.

THC: Will flourish with the Suns. Mark my words. WILL FLOURISH.

BR: People need to realize that French people can't play basketball. Tony Parker only gets by because his dad is an American.

Ilunga-Mbenga, Didier

BS: I thought he’d been drafted this year.

THC: How does Cuban just have an entire squadron of centers at his disposal at all times?

BR: Another one of Donnie Nelson's overseas unpolished gems. These ain't conflict diamonds, is they? Jacob, don't lie to me, mayne!

Ilyasova, Ersan

BS: The Turk with the Russian name, and he plays like it, too.

THC: I refuse to acknowledge the existence of any Turkish basketball player not named Mehmet Okur, Hedo Turkoglu, of Ibrahim Kutlulay

BR: Do we need to do a post about the MONAK-47?

Khryapa, Viktor

BS: Dude gets clowned on because of his name, but I just don’t see it. He also was once considered AK-47’s equal as a future star but I just don’t see that, either.

THC: On some really ignorant generalizing shit, I'm just gonna go ahead and say that I think Russians on the whole have more heart than the other Euros in the league. Like, I'd be more comfortable drafting a Russian I never heard of than a Croatian.

BR: Part of the youth movement in Portland. If Zach keeps fucking up, don't be surprised if Viktor lined up alongside Travis Outlaw in the starting lineup. BTW, Blazers = Clippers NW. And I mean that as a compliment.

Kleiza, Linas

BS: Any way you slice it, this man’s name for the world is Linas, as in Charlie Brown and Friends. I just never knew that was a real name. Or that it had its origins in the fine gardens of Eastern Europe.

THC: And JR Rider cant get a spot on someone's roster??? Sorry, I'm getting real patriotic here.

BR: Do they still count as Euros if they played high school and college ball in the States? The next Darius Songaila.

Korolev, Yaroslav

BS: To paraphrase Sergei from Season 2 of The Wire: Is it seventeen years old? Yes? Is it made a very public, unconditional promise by the Clippers on the eve of one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory? No? Then it’s not Yaroslav Korolev.

THC: When dude got drafted, they showed him dunking on 12-year-olds in a Russian YMCA gym. Averaged like 2 points a game and for some reason Dunleavy is obsessed with him. Clips could have at least drafted Nate Robinson just to increase ticket sales. Ridiculous. Drafting foreign projects in the lotto over established Americans is the equivalent of all these indie music cats who deify The Streets and Dizzie Rascal. BUT YOU WONT SHOW THE SAME LOVE TO YOUR OWN I Self Devine, Big Juss, Saafir, Juggaknots...etc.

BR: If you run a google image search on Korolev, you'll find a picture of him dunking like Jordan. I seriously think that is the extent of the scouting that Mike Dunleavy did on this kid.

Krstic, Nenad

BS: Would link to past FreeDarko articles on him, but then I’d run the risk of you seeing what I was writing back then.

THC: Epitomizes "serviceable."

BR: Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nets Establishment.

Lampe, Maciej

BS: He was a projected lottery pick who fell into the second round, the exact same storyline that has drawn people to Rashard Lewis since day one of his career. In the biggest city in the universe, no less. And then. . . nothing. I think he was on the Suns for a minute, as was nearly everyone on this list in the second half of 2003-2004.

THC: His name soothes me. Sorry, thats all I got.

BR: Joined Frederic Weis in that unholy fraternity of Euros who were booed by Knicks fans on draft day. If this guy can't see minutes with the Hornets, he must really suck.

Lorbek, Erazem

BS: Yes, Ron Artest shares a uniform with an impressionable Euro rookie.

THC: This guy played for Izzo at Michigan State? Huh?

BR: Bailed on his college team midway through the season to promote his techno album in Europe.

Macijauskas, Arvydas

BS: Not Martynas Andriuskevicius.

THC: If I were a tall Euro trying to get drafted, I would just change my first name to Arvydas.

BR: Seriously, who the fuck is this guy?

Nachbar, Bostjan

BS: Once upon a time, the Rockets needed a shooter. Nachbar was a draft day shoe-in who failed to deliver. As honest a mistake as you’ll find in Euro scouting.

THC: Wasn't this the dude who Karl Malone went after hard in the 2004 playoffs? Could be a fan favorite on a contender...Instead is wasting away in N.O.

BR: I know it's fucking retarded, but I want to call him "Boston Snackbar."

Oberto, Fabricio

BS: His name sounds like he should be a basketball Adonis. Looking at a few photos of him, I honestly can’t tell if he’s a gigantic Michael Pitt or just a 6’ 10” guy from another country that happens to not look like Dracula.

THC: Ok, now I know we could devote an entire week to looking at players' personal websites (especially the foreign ones), and therefore need not post every one we see. But this made me chuckle more than a little bit. Dude does look like a basketball Adonis after all.

BR: Isn't Oberto a brand of beef jerky?

Pachulia, Zaza

BS: With him now gone to the Hawks, there is now absolutely no excuse for thinking that Dan Gadzuric is a foreigner.

THC: The 05-06 Primoz Brezec.

BR: When I saw the Bucks play in Charlotte last season, the kids sitting behind us kept chanting "Zaaa-zaaaa" whenever he came in the game. How do you say "fan favorite" in Georgian?

Pavlovic, Aleksandar

BS: Has missed more open three’s on national tv since god knows who, but he kind of looks like me so I ain’t mad at him.

THC: Watching Pavlovic whiff open shots and tank Lebron's playoffs hopes was oddly familiar to watching Sprewell destroy the 04-05 T- Wolves' team chemistry.

BR: He kind of looks like Shoals.

Pietrus, Mickael

BS: I am a major supporter of Mickael Pietrus. Call him Artest of the Islands; he’s following the same developmental arc.

THC: Only fully sincere comment I will make in this entire post: Pietrus will be a star in this league.

BR: He was supposed to be the French Jordan, while Diaw was the French Pippen. Could still pan out as the French James Posey.

Planinic, Zoran

BS: I take back what I said about Zarko being the best Euro name ever. (apologies if this has offended any of our Balkan readers.)

THC: A Chad Ford favorite...I'm not impressed.

BR: Have any of these 6-7 Euro point guards ever actually worked out? The Nets have so much faith in this guy they just signed Jeff McInnis. Ouch.

Podkolzin, Pavel

BS: First off, in basketball dork-dom, “Chad Ford” is a season. I’m talking like summer, fall, spring. Now, in the Chad Ford leading up to Podkolzin’s being drafted, double P became more than an inflated scouting report—he was a folk tale that rose like a flatulent batch of smoke and steam from the steppes of Mother Russia. Second, he had better be allowed some PT some time soon, for the same reason that Yao had to start from day one.

THC: SEE. I'M TELLING YOU. CUBAN HAS AN ARMY OF THESE DUDES...unless, I think he's not on the Mavs anymore.

BR: How is this guy not at least as famous or good as Gheorghe Muresan?

Seung-Jin, Ha

BS: I hope everyone read that article that Simmons linked to earlier this week. This guy is a Tru Warrior, as is whatever Euro he attacked with a wooden pole (who I hope made it onto this post, wherever you are).

THC: That article actually deserves re-posting. I'll try to find it.

BR: As awesome as it is that Ha attacked Nedzad Sinanovic with a wooden pole, he loses major points for reportedly yelling, "I'll sue, I'll sue!" What a pussy.

Update: The Recluse provides this somewhat related link to the now-legendary Seung-Jin/Sinanovic square-off.

Slokar, Uros

BS: I don’t think I could ever have been accused of xenophobia, but this guy’s name just sounds evil. And why doesn’t nba.com tell me what team he’s on?

THC: That's like some made-up name someone invented just to fuck with us. Is his first name pronounced "EUROS?"

BR:We included Uros Slokar, but not Cenk Akyol? What the fuck?

Sundov, Bruno

BS: There’s been a legit seven-foot center from Croatia floundering in the league since 1998-1999. And still this whole Euromania happened as charged?

THC: Should be backing up Jerome James but won't be.

BR: He's on a team coached by Larry Brown and managed by Isiah Thomas. Yeah, he's playing a lot this year.

Tskitishvili, Nikoloz

BS: The summer he was drafted, I once left work early to try and fathom the enigma that was Skita. He ended up rotting in the long, long shadow cast by a truly resplendant Chris Anderson, prompting Dime to proclaim that Anderson, too, was headed for future stardom.

THC: Was told by my little brother who saw Skita light it up in summer league, that after Skita hit like his fifth consecutive three-pointer, he ran down to the other end boxing an invisible opponent. An instant Minnesota fan favorite.

BR: Minnesota is really the perfect team for him, since he is built like Kevin Garnett and plays like Wally Szczerbiak. Now is as good a time as any to reveal that my personal choice for the name of this site was TskitaTime (as proposed by Shoals).

Vujacic, Sasha

BS: I’ve seen him. I’ve watched him play. And I’ve concluded that he’s only in the Association because of a clerical error, or a case of trans-Atlantic mistaken identity.

THC: Challenged Kevin fucking Garnett in a game last year, and actually burned him. Got in KGs head HARD (no Walton). I like him cuz he plays fearlessly.

BR: White guys in the NBA tend to either look like they're 14 or 40. Sasha would fall in the former category. I don't think he even shaves yet.


I'll be your brain

(in tribute to Simmons, I'll refer to the following as "going Hubie." But best believe I did it first.)

So you're the Philadelphia 76er's. You've committed a significant chunk of money to one of the premier young big men in the league, a human pogo stick and dominant shot-blocker who still has a tremendous amount of upside. You then part ways with the pedestrian Marc Jackson, an undersized center who has never shown much willingness to do the dirty work underneath the basket. Now, what do you do with this cap space? Obviously, you go after another raw, athletic seven-footer who can jump out of the gym and is prone to goaltending violations.

1. Can you say "team of Black fan favorites?"

(Iverson is the only All-Star who counts as a fan favorite)

2. What better way to disspell rumors that LB is secretly running your team than to make the most patently un-Brownian move in Association history?