Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Chaos Reigns in Conference Finals

b-ballYeah, I’ll be talkin’ about all the cockamamie developments in both the East and West of the NBA. As I’m wont to do. But don’t be looking to me for an explanation of what’s playing out.

I’m the guy who went all Moses Malone, and anointed the Cavs a lock for a fo’ fo’ fo’ trip to the Championship Round.

I’m the guy, just another of many many guys and gals, who has fallen in love with cute little Steph and his ability to nail 30 footers whenever it mattered. Or, so it seemed.

I’m the guy, who forgot that DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are bona fide All-Stars, and that Lowry might just be ridin’ out a 2016 Villanova hum. And that Dwane Casey might know more about coaching hoops than how to stuff an envelope with moolah to bag a recruit. And that Tyronn Lue might not be as savvy as David Blatt. And that Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, despite their props, have never been here before, and might not understand how you gotta play D to win a title.

I’m the guy who watched Steven Adams play a year for Pitt, and didn’t realize how gritty (and big guy talented) he is. And how Russell Westbrook’s hell bent for leather game could unnerve even kickballin’ Draymond Green. And that Billy the Kid has two more titles on his resumé than the Kerr/Walton pas de deux combined.

I’m the guy who has never understood why people who pay triple figures for tickets to a basketball game feel compelled to wear color coordinated t-shirts on their seats, just because The World Wide Leader likes how photogenic it looks. Nor how the energy in an arena in Tornado Alley can be so tornadic, propelling the resident team to greater heights.

So, yeah, OKC is on the brink of eliminating the defending champs.

The Raptors have discovered several niches in the LeBrons’ armor.

And I’m Seedy K, a hoopaholic, watching it all play out, fascinated, but gobsmacked.

Who saw this coming?

Not me. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Chaos Reigns in Conference Finals

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Thunder Plunder Dubs, Cavs Cruise

b-ballThe handwritten sign over the bin at Paul’s Market reads, “Best Apples in Store.”

“**Crisp”

“**Tasty”

Since my morning ritual consists of natural crunchy peanut butter and an apple, always crisp, never tart (Ambrosia, Honeycrisp, the occasional Pacific Rose), I grabbed a couple to test eat.

The little sticky labels that are a pain in the ass to pull off read, “Smitten.”

Smitten Apples. Clever designation, that.

Crisp and tasty, they are, and I’m off to the market this afternoon to replenish my supply.

Smitten, indeed.

 * * * * *

And smitten is what we hoopaholics have been, as we were with the Spurs in ’14, with the Golden State Warriors since their beautiful ever in motion panache won them last year’s NBA title, and a record 73 regular season tilts this season. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Thunder Plunder Dubs, Cavs Cruise

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Hardwood Elegance for the Ages

b-ballWith less than two minutes to play in the 1980 NCAA title game, the scored knotted at 54, Darrell Griffith dribbled into the frontcourt against significant defensive pressure from the UCLA Bruins, scurrying back to cover.

Louisville Cardinal teammates on Griffith’s flanks filled the lanes, but were checked.

There was no direct lane to the bucket.

Seizing the moment, the paradigm of carpe diem, Griffith stopped on a dime eighteen feet from the hoop at a slight angle at the outer edge of the left elbow, and elevated.

I distinctly remember thinking as he was launching the jumper, “This is the shot he has been waiting to take his whole life. He won’t miss it.”

Net.

Most of us addled with this game of basketball recall similarly transcendent moments, scenes of our own greatest memories. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Hardwood Elegance for the Ages

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Westbrook, Parker & Analytics

b-ballOkay, the most significant long term takeaway from last night’s pivotal OKC Western semi W in San Antonio is that the Spurs are on the cusp of refurbishment. Whether or not they win the next two and survive this series with the Thunder, and even the next with Golden State.

Tim Duncan is but a holographic image of his former HofF-quality baller, and frankly, on the court, is a detriment to his team’s play these days, other than as a leader and calming presence.

I’ll get to Tony Parker in a minute.

LaMarcus Aldridge, important newcomer, is over 30. Kawhi Leonard is a budding superstar, but his demeanor is so reticent, it’s hard to see him as a “leader” for the future.

So, yeah, there’s that goin’ on. Actually, not goin’ on, as in needs the franchise needs to fill.

As for OKC, there’s all the conjecture about where KD might go, should he feel it’s time to move away from Tornado Alley. But, hey, if the Thunder make a big run this campaign, maybe their dynamic duo will stay put. Add a big — Dwight Howard, anyone? — and who knows?

But, enough of all that conjecture.

I’m fascinated by some of the numbers from last night’s OKC W at the Alamo. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Westbrook, Parker & Analytics

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Hurricane Steph Strikes Again

b-ballFirst, a tip for all my fellow, similarly addled hoopaholics, who, like me, hit the hay early, but still want to savor these incredible late night playoff games from the Left Coast.

Use your DVR. Watch the tilts in the a.m. with your morning joe. (As opposed to “Morning Joe,” which cable “news” show is giving the terminology a bad name.)

Buuuuuuut, remember, don’t be a doofus like me. Set the recording for long enough, so that you can watch the whole game, even when it goes to OT.

So, I saw the boffo highlights as soon as I awakened. Knew that the Warriors beat Portland in overtime. Knew that Steph Curry, after a slow slow start, went for 23 points in the last 9+ minutes of the battle, including 17 in the extra 5.

I made my coffee. Fixed my usual repast of natural crunchy PB on Ambrosia apple, and turned on my recording to the 4th Q.

What a game, even though both Curry and Rip City’s scintillating PG Damion Lillard, both of whom were otherwise transcendent at crunch time, missed shots at the end of regulation that would have ended it.

Then, five seconds into OT, the recording stopped. Because, yeah, truth be told, like a dumb schmuck, I only set the recording time for 2 1/2 hours.

Fortunately, there are enough highlight reels on the dub dub dub, so I have a sense of the whole Curry flurry that felled the T-Blazers . . . but still . . . it was like pulling up short. Fortunately my temporary case of b-ball blue balls has abated.

I shan’t make the same mistake again. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: Hurricane Steph Strikes Again

MMPG: Back on the Scene with a Gangsta Lean

allsportsSo, you remember me, right?

Your resident point guard, Seedy K. Well, I’m back after the usual early spring hiatus.

Why the disappearance, you might wonder?

Well, first there was my annual bout of PMMSD (Post March Madness Stress Disorder). Then Jordan Spieth’s meltdown in Augusta, which had me wondering if anything meant anything anymore in the world of sports.

Then eight days in New Orleans for JazzFest, and too much great music and equally delicious eats.

Then the announcement that Dylan, the Stones, McCartney, Neil Young, the half the Who that’s left and whatisname from Pink Floyd will be gigging together in Cali come October for the Mother of All Oldies Shows. They’ll be more than glad to relieve you of the entirety of your IRA as a down payment on tickets, which can be purchased over time at low interest rates.

Then Derby, which is always everywhere in this burg, even when the Julep glasses are inferior, even if one tries to hide out in unusual nooks and crannies of Derbyplace USA. (Though, in honor of the namesake of the winner, I did wear my stylin’ Red Wings sweater to a blissfully laid back post race get together.)

But, the Cavs are on the cusp of dominating the NBA, while the Spurs are showing their age. Little Richie Farmer, who had the governorship by the short and curlies had he any sense and moxie at all, has filed bankruptcy post-prison term, and is getting by with help from his parents. Gulp.

Which is to say, it’s time for my triumphant return. I’m back, with the usually skewed perspective, droppin’ dimes for deuces. Continue reading MMPG: Back on the Scene with a Gangsta Lean

Standing Os & Curtain Calls for Dubs, Steph & Kobe

b-ballWell now, that certainly wasn’t your normal run of the mill, let’s get this last game and 82 game grind over, so we can get a couple of days rest before the playoffs kind of NBA regular season finale.

For the Lakers, who actually won, in You Know Who’s last game. And for Kobe, who reached deep and gave a top of his considerable game performance in his last.

For the Warriors, who set a regular season standard for Ws — 73 — that will likely go unchallenged for a good bit.

For the best player in b-ball, Steph Curry, who set a mark, that transcends the previous by an unfathomable amount.

I found it interesting that at espn.com, the headline featured Kobe, in his last but otherwise meaningless game. Though it shouldn’t be surprising given the au courant tendency to herald individual performances instead of ensemble ones, even in a team game like hoops.

Bryant did go for 60, including 23 in the 4th, all the while leading LA to a rare come from behind victory, and cementing a losing and playoff bereft campaign for Utah.

Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack and Shaq were beaming from their seats courtside.

While, the New York Times online gave its headline to Golden State’s monumental achievement, winning 73 of its 82 contests.

Yo, Kobe, all the real news that fits, dude.

So, yeah, it was nice and all that, Kobe showing his stuff in style one more once, but, really now, the Dubs and Steph were The Story. Continue reading Standing Os & Curtain Calls for Dubs, Steph & Kobe

MMQB: Spieth, Story, Steph & The Real Big Story

stephindexThere are some monster stories this springtime.

Jordan Spieth’s meltdown at the 12th.

Steph Curry’s emergence as the best baller in hoops. Along with his Dubs emanation as one of the best pro outfits ever.

Trevor Story’s 25 or so homers for the Rockies in his first handful of games in the Bigs.

There are a couple of other trends, but they’re probably of interest only to me, a child of Motown. Those would be the Pistons making the NBA playoffs. And the Red Wings backing into the post season like Nicklas Lidstrom, covering a short-handed breakaway counterattack at the Joe.

And then there’s the story that really trumps them all, a fascinating bit of sporting history unfolding as never before. But I’ll save that one for last. Otherwise, you might click away for lack of interest.

 * * * * *

It has been argued by many that hitting a baseball off of major league pitching is the most difficult single task in sports.

Maybe so.

But anybody who has ever attempted golf knows it might be equally as hard to to swing at a ball with a golf club — off the tee, in a trap, out of the woods, or on the green — and have it end up where the swinger would for it to. Continue reading MMQB: Spieth, Story, Steph & The Real Big Story

Hoopaholic Heaven: Tit for Tat & the Title

b-ballSoon enough I shall get to the several Shining Moments at the end of this truly championship-quality championship game, one which should have been played somewhere deserving, at Freedom Hall or the Palestra or Cole Fieldhouse or Hinkle or anywhere hoops worthy other than a cavernous pigskin palace in football country.

In a moment, maybe, maybe not, I shall join the crowd and extol the virtues of Kris Jenkins rising to the considerable occasion, Ryan Arcidiacano living out his dream, Jay Wright’s exemplary game plan and its execution, the Tar Heels’ resolve, Phil Booth’s amazing performance off the pine, Joel Berry’s opening half play, the contrasting reactions of MJ and Rollie in the stands, the Jenkins/ Britt brother against brother angle, and all the other storylines inclined to stick with us about the most exciting NCAA title tilt ever.

But first, I must admit, my thoughts the morning after are not of my resounding “Holy Shit!!” at the buzzer, or, frankly, the game itself. What I couldn’t get out of my mind were the words of a Carolina coach.

And it’s not Roy Williams, who was after the L in his cloying good ol’ Southern gentleman wish I coulda done more for kids mode. Continue reading Hoopaholic Heaven: Tit for Tat & the Title

Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The Best Two are Left

bballHopefully we are in for a treat tonight, what with the indisputably best two teams in the land vying for its One Shining Moment, whoever might be warbling that iconic tuneage when the confetti’s flying.

We should finally be able to make some sense of this cockamamie season — Remember when we were worried about the legacy of SMU, should the Mustangs have finished undefeated? And this weird tourney. You know Northern Iowa’s choke job against the Texas Aggies was as bad as it could get . . . we were so very sure . . . until Oklahoma laid down in the semis.

Through all the ups and downs since November, while filtering through wannabe flavors of the week, Villanova and North Carolina have been the most consistent. It’s far from every year that the top two are left standing to compete on the final Monday.

Didn’t happen last season, even though a couple of #1 seeds tangled for the title. Nor, certainly the year before, when a #7 beat an #8 for the crown. Perhaps the last such tussle, the two best tilting toward title town, was UK over Kansas.

No matter. Continue reading Hoopaholic’s Gazette: The Best Two are Left